Racing: Soccer star quit to watch Cup

By Mike Dillon

Former footballer Michael Owen. Photo / Getty Images
Former footballer Michael Owen. Photo / Getty Images

Michael Owen looks as though he could still be striking for Manchester United, Liverpool or Real Madrid.

That's because he could - if he wanted to. But he doesn't want to.

He wants to be in the Flemington grandstand watching Brown Panther win this afternoon's A$6.2 million ($7.1 million) Emirates Melbourne Cup for him.

He wants it badly. So badly, he gave up football prematurely this year simply to be in Melbourne for the race. "I played 89 times for England, but I've had enough of football to be honest," said the 33-year-old at Sunday's breakfast at the Werribee Racecourse quarantine station.

"Horse racing has always been my passion since I was very young and I don't even know why, because I wasn't born into it.

"I bought my first horse at 18 and it snowballed."

That's not an overstatement - Owen owns Manor House Stables in Cheshire, which houses 92 horses under the care of his trainer Tom Dascombe.

In a wide open cup this year, Brown Panther is quite well fancied at $21 - favourite Fiorente is at $9.

Brown Panther's English form is excellent. Two starts back on August 1, he won the group two Goodwood Cup over the Melbourne Cup distance of 3200m, beating one of this afternoon's toughest rivals, Mount Athos.

Owen says he loves travelling with his horses.

"We've won races in America and Turkey lately and one of my greatest regrets is not being able to be there when I was playing."

- NZ Herald

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