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Michael Owen pounces on Group 1 success with Brown Panther

updated 8:27 AM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
Former England striker Michael Owen co-owns Manor House Stables, based in Cheshire. Former England striker Michael Owen co-owns Manor House Stables, based in Cheshire.
Man in the hat
Brown Panther
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  • Ex-England striker enjoys his biggest-ever horse-racing win at Irish St Leger
  • Brown Panther stuns a stellar field including Aidan O'Brien-trained Leading Light
  • Owen describes the horse as 'the apple of my eye' and targets Ascot glory next
  • Trainer Tom Dascombe hails perfect ride by jockey Richard Kingscote on board

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(CNN) -- He used to terrorize defenses, but now former Liverpool and England striker Michael Owen is tearing up the turf after clinching his first Group 1 winner.

Seven years ago Owen set up his own yard -- Manor House Stables -- and on Sunday he witnessed his first top-flight success as Brown Panther, a horse he also bred, romped to victory over a stellar field in the Irish St Leger at The Curragh.

"He's the apple of my eye as everyone knows and he was pretty spectacular out there," said Owen, who fought back tears amid the emotion of the win following a superb ride by jockey Richard Kingscote.

"Richard was a bit closer to the pace than we envisaged but he's a relentless galloper and he quickened again," added Owen. "He kept galloping and he's a superstar."

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Owen was thrust with Liverpool, Manchester United and England jerseys to sign in the winners' enclosure, which was likened to a mosh pit at the music festival Glastonbury.

Brown Panther showed the sort of turn of pace with which Owen used to bedevil defenders during his playing days amid a world class field, including Ascot Gold Cup winner Leading Light, trained by Aidan O'Brien.

It proved a tough weekend for O'Brien, a day after his star horse Australia suffered a shock defeat in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown Saturday.

As such, Owen proved the star turn of Irish racing at the weekend, a fitting result following the death just two months earlier of Treble Heights, the mother of Brown Panther.

The Tom Dascombe-trained stallion had finished third at the same race at the Curragh in 2012, but this time his rivals failed to match his pace heading to the winning post as Brown Panther added to previous victories at both Ascot and Goodwood.

"The first thing to say is he [Richard] gave him a brilliant ride," said Dascombe, who hinted Brown Panther is now likely to compete at the Long Distance Cup race at British Champions Day next month at Ascot rather than return to the Melbourne Cup where he was eighth a year ago.

"I was close to pulling him out but there aren't too many Irish levers so you have to run. The horse never lets us down."

In an interview with CNN earlier this year, Owen, who also houses two of Wayne Rooney's horses at his stables, admitted that horse racing wins can only come a close second to scoring goals in his footballing heyday.

Introduced to the sport of kings by his dad Terry, Owen also revealed he still struggled with the concept of merely watching a sporting occasion from the stands.

"With football you always feel in control. On the pitch, you can always do something to make something happen. Your destiny is in your hands in many ways," he said.

Read: Michael Owen - From 'silent assassin' to horse whisperer

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