It was a case of deja vu for former England footballer Michael Owen when he attended Pontefract races on Sunday with his family (writes Graham Orange).
Owen saw Brown Panther (11-8), the horse he bred and jointly owns, win the afternoon’s feature race, the totepool Pontefract Castle Stakes, for the second successive year.
Trained in Cheshire by Tom Dascombe and ridden by Richard Kingscote, Brown Panther was the very impressive winner of this listed race over one mile and a half, having three and a half lengths to spare over Souviens Toi.
It was Brown Panther’s seasonal debut, and he is likely to be aimed at the group one Irish St Leger in September at the Curragh - a race in which he finished a very close third last year.
The big disappointment of the race was the performance of the evens favourite Main Sequence - the runner-up in last year’s Derby - who was well beaten in fourth place.
It was a very productive day for jockey Silvestre de Sousa, who notched up four winners, including a dead-heat in the final race.
He partnered Herostatus (10-1) to victory in the afternoon’s race for stayers, the totepool Mobile Pontefract Cup.
Trained at Middleham by Jason Ward, Herostatus had run well at York last month over a shorter distance, and he took up the lead at the furlong marker to prevail by three and a half lengths.
De Sousa’s first winner was on board Haylaman (7-2) for Newmarket trainer David Simcock in the totequadpot Handicap Stakes over a mile and a quarter.
The winning margin was seven lengths from another Newmarket inmate Gabrial The Great.
Both horses ran in the colours of owner Dr Marwan Koukash.
Huffoof (15-2) was the third leg of de Sousa’s four-timer, landing the totetrifecta Fillies’ Handicap Stakes over a mile and a quarter.
Huffoof, trained at Newmarket by Roger Varian for Sheikh Ahmed al Maktoum, stayed on well to take the spoils by a length and a half from the well-backed favourite Kikonga.
The afternoon’s concluding race,the toteexacta Handicap Stakes - a contest for sprinters over six furlongs - produced a thrilling dead-heat as Ayasha (20-1) and Teetotal (5-1) flashed past the post in unison. Teetotal had won at Leicester the previous weekend for Malton trainer Nigel Tinkler and continued his good form in the hands of de Sousa.
The filly Ayasha - trained at Hambleton by Bryan Smart and partnered by Royston Ffrench - led the way and looked to be the sole winner, until joined on the line by Teetotal.
The reigning champion jockey Richard Hughes - making a rare appearance at Pontefract - made his presence felt when he guided Dare To Achieve (1-4 favourite) to a facile victory in the race for maiden three-year-olds over a mile and a half for Newmarket trainer William Haggas.
The winning distance was six lengths.
Malton trainer, Richard Fahey was certainly out of luck at last week’s Royal Ascot meeting, recording a frustrating four second places, but he took the opening race on Sunday, courtesy of Dutch Courage (13-8), ridden by Tony Hamilton.