DUBLIN (AFP) - Former England striker turned horse owner and breeder Michael Owen lamented "the saddest day" of his life after his top class stayer Brown Panther had to be put down on Sunday.
The former Liverpool, Real Madrid and Manchester United star was at The Curragh to watch his classy stayer attempt to win a second successive Irish St Leger.
But disaster struck when jockey Richard Kingscote was forced to pull up Brown Panther before the final bend, with the injury to his leg too severe to save the horse.
"It's the saddest day of my life," Owen, 35, wrote on Twitter. "The toughest, most honest, brilliant horse I will ever set eyes on passed away today doing the thing he loved the most.
"A shattered hind leg that was irreparable according to the first-class team at the Curragh ended his life.
"I was with him when he was born, shared an experience for seven years that will never be repeated and gave him his last kiss goodbye.
"What an honour to own and breed him. I love you Panther, life will not be the same without you."
Owen enjoyed his greatest moments on a racecourse with Brown Panther who won at Royal Ascot in 2011 and then enjoyed success in the Goodwood Cup as well as last year's Irish St Leger.
He lined up in last year's Melbourne Cup, finishing eighth. Brown Panther was trained by Tom Dascombe at a racing stables joint-owned by Owen in his native Cheshire.