Michael Owen on target but striker's team are still not firing on all cylinders

10 May 2010 01:00
For Michael Owen, the opening day of Chester's May meeting was a bit like the final of the Carling Cup a mixture of success and frustration.

At Wembley, Owen scored as Manchester United beat Aston Villa but limped off with a hamstring injury that ended his season. On Wednesday, he celebrated one for his team as Julius Geezer, trained by Tom Dascombe at his Manor House Stables in Cheshire, made all to win the Lily Agnes Stakes.

But his own Chester Cup hope Nemo Spirit ran as if he had four strained hamstrings, tailing off as Richard Hughes won by a head on David Pipe's 7-1 favourite Mamlook. The day also reflected the ups and downs of Dascombe's first full season as Owen's resident trainer.

All smiles: Michael Owen (left) and his trainer Tom Dascombe on the gallops

He had told anyone who asked that 12-1 shot Julius Geezer held out little hope compared to stablemate Coconut Ice, the eventual fifth. Like many of his string, Julius Geezer had been afflicted by a bacterial infection.

Dascombe, uncharacteristically slow to hit form and saddling his first juvenile winner of the season, said: 'It is a bacterial infection that we are struggling to shift. We have 60 two-year-olds. They are not right and that wipes out 70 per cent of the string.'

Racing and football share similar rumour mills. Dascombe had already picked up murmurs that he was facing the same battles that bedevilled his predecessor Nicky Vaughan at Manor House, gossip fuelled no doubt by the jealous wish to see Owen burn his money.

Surveying the scene: Owen has begun buying fillies with potential to make broodmares

But the striker, who watched Wednesday's action alongside his managerSir Alex Ferguson, insists that now with the vital assistance ofpartner Andrew Black, the co-founder of Betfair, a Premier Leagueracing outfit will emerge at the 160-acre former farm.

New gallops have been installed and a swimming pool, veterinary centre and additional stables will follow.

Owen said: 'I'd invested a lot of money and it was going to be difficult to keep on going. Racing is certainly a money pit and that is before you start buying horses.

'We want to make this place the best we can. We don't want to be second-rate. You need the best horses, the best facilities and the best trainer.

Hot tip: Manchester United's John O'Shea (above right) and Nani (above left) struck gold at Chester, while Owen Hargreaves (below right) and Sir Alex Ferguson (below centre) also enjoyed their day at the races

'We are not in a position to compete with the top stables yet, butwe are confident we will be in time. We will provide Tom with the bestfacilities. You just need healthy horses and a bit of luck.'

Sacking Vaughan last summer may have been seen as ruthless, but Owen believes the stable was simply evolving.

Hesaid: 'It's like building a football team. You can't just go and getSir Alex Ferguson as manager if you own Chester City. You have to startand build from somewhere.

'I used to have horses trained with John Gosden when he was at Mantonand always said that I'd like to create a mini-Manton when I got old.It started off as a joke but that is what I want to do.'

Winner: Thaahir,a ridden by Richard Hills, romps to victory in the Residence At Hq Maiden Stakes

Owen's ambition is also to breed winners and he has begun buying fillies with potential to make broodmares.

An unnamed Cadeaux Genereux filly is a start this season. She is in training alongside three juveniles Cuban Spirit, Cuban Quality and Cuban Piece who race for eight United team-mates, including Paul Scholes and Gary Neville.

Ultimately, Owen wants to produce Classic candidates such as Gosden's Gertrude Bell, 25-1 for the Oaks after her win in the Cheshire version on Wednesday.

Chester Cup winner Mamlook, meanwhile, might have his sights set further afield after jockey Richard Hughes confirmed he is a perfect contender for the Melbourne Cup.

It was the Irishman who recommended running him in in Wednesday's race after the pair finished second in last year's Cesarewitch. 

 The Data Bank: All the best bets for Thursday, May 5Can Owen bear it? David Evans aims to keep out Manchester United ace in Lily Agnes StakesDAVID MILNES: Trainer Jim Boyle goes up the elite pecking orderAidan O'Brien hoping to Stay Devoted at the 1000 Guineas this weekend


Source: Daily_Mail

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