Friday 23 March 2018

Tom Dascombe: Lord of the Manor

Tom Dascombe began his career in racing as conditional jockey to Martin Pipe but, having ridden just eight winners in three seasons at Pond House, left to join Ron Hodges at nearby Cedar Lodge. He subsequently rode out his ‘claim’ but, having ridden just nine winners in the preceding three seasons, he finally decided to call it a day after finishing tailed off on Sex Bomb for the late Jimmy Neville in a novices’ hurdle at Fontwell in October 2001. He finished his riding career with 96 winners.

Dascombe subsequently worked as assistant trainer to Ralph Beckett, Mike de Kock in Dubai and John Jenkins before taking out a training licence, in his own right, in late 2005. From his initial base in Lambourn, he made a highly successful start to his training career, saddling his first winner, Principal Witness, at Lingfield in January, 2006 and finishing the season with 10 winners.

In 2008, Dascombe saddled 42 winners, including his first two Group winners, Classic Blade in the TNT July Stakes and Ole Ole in the Weatherbys Superlative Stakes, with the space of 24 hours at the Newmarket July Meeting. His emerging talent did not go unnoticed because, the following season, he was invited by former England footballer Michael Owen and Betfair co-founder Andrew Black to fill the vacancy left by Nicky Vaughan at Manor House Stables, near Malpas, Cheshire. Dascombe celebrated the move by saddling a winner with his first runner, Mondovi, a 5-year-old mare owned by footballers Kieron Dyer and Craig Bellamy, at Wolverhampton in September that year.

Dascombe saddled his first winners at Royal Ascot in 2011, with Rhythm Of Light in the Sandringham Handicap and Brown Panther in the King George VI Stakes. Rhythm Of Light went on to win the International Istanbul Trophy at Veliendie, Turkey and the Goldikova Stakes at Santa Anita the following season.

Brown Panther, bred and owned by Michael Owen, went on to finish second, beaten 3 lengths, behind Masked Marvel in the Ladbrokes St. Leger at Doncaster in 2011 and was to become the flagbearer for the yard in the seasons that followed. The Shirocco colt won the Goodwood Cup in 2013, the Irish St. Leger at the Curragh in 2014 – the first Group 1 victory for Dascombe – and the Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan in 2015, before his untimely death later that year. Defending his crown in the Irish St. Leger, Brown Panther weakened quickly after halfway, having shattered a bone in his hind leg, and had to be put down. Michael Owen described his death as “the saddest day of my life”.

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