Michael Owen is far too humble to admit it, but he might just be the Englishman to wreak sporting armageddon on Australia, engineering the Melbourne Cup's maiden passage back to the mother country.
As we wallow in our sporting self pity with the Old Dart boasting bragging rights over their convict cousins, Owen has been forcibly shoved into the spotlight since arriving Down Under.
Mobbed at the Cup barrier draw at Flemington on Saturday, hounded for interviews at every turn and snapped wherever he pops up in public, the now retired football star is a man in demand.
No doubt Brown Panther's part-owner has been a shot in the arm for our showpiece event via his mere presence.
And he has a few designs on ending the English drought in the big one.
"Being in racing I've always known about the Melbourne Cup and it's not on at the kindest of hours back in England," he said.
"It's often a re-run in the morning or if you want a challenge sometimes you'd stay up to the early hours of the morning.
"I'm very certain now with such a strong European contingent there will be lots of people back home watching. It's a famous race around the world and everyone knows about it.
"England have never had a winner in the Melbourne Cup and to be the first would be a huge honour. [But] we're not getting too carried away."
Owen and Brown Panther's trainer Tom Dascombe have some pretty good company in that regard.
Breeding and racing giant Godolphin have a horror record in the two-miler. Luca Cumani is back for an eighth time chasing that elusive Cup.
And Ed Dunlop knows how Cumani feels after a pimple extinguished Red Cadeaux's bid two years ago.
Ed Walker and Marco Botti round out the English-based raiders tomorrow.
So just in case our last sporting holy grail still English-free lands in the lap of Brown Panther, this is how it started.
Owen takes a fleeting interest in racing through his father. Watches it a bit on the box and buys his first horse at 18.
Eventually races a mare by the name of Treble Heights who is well performed on the track. The breeding barn?
She gives every indication John Howard throws the arm over with more conviction than the progeny she'll throw after frequent love-ins.
"She didn't produce too much in the first three or four foals that she had and then this fella [Brown Panther] came along," Owen said.
"To only have one [mare] there and breed something so special . . . obviously you need a lot of luck and he's taken us to some great places so he's certainly the apple in my eye."
You only need to take a fleeting glance at Brown Panther to see why the pint-sized Owen would be fond of his most precious horseflesh. The six-year-old is a physically imposing type, even having rival trainers on edge after a string of head-turning hit-outs at Werribee.
Tough and likely to be on the speed, Brown Panther is a polar opposite of his owner. Owen preferred to drift between defenders on the pitch, inconspicuous until when needed in front of goal. There's no such hiding for Brown Panther, who quickly stacked the weight back on in quarantine.
"My horse has travelled well and I think he only lost about seven kilos on the flight and he's put that back on," Owen said. "He's eaten fine and he's training well, we've got all the boxes ticked so far and obviously the biggest box to tick is to be good enough to win the race."
So is August's Goodwood Cup winner, well, just that?
"It's obviously a very difficult race to win and it's impossible to call," Owen said. "I've been told it's one of the strongest Melbourne Cups for a long time . . . if not ever."
Ed Walker had a novel way of trying to assist Lexus winner Ruscello to back up within 72 hours, then quickly realised what it would have meant.
The English horseman was hoping to pick the brains of 12-time Cup winner Bart Cummings, but realised what he had done when confirming a Cup start after a couple of hours of deliberating.
‘‘I was actually going to ask him and get some advice about backing up a horse [after Derby Day], but when I found out we knocked him out, I thought I better not,’’ Walker joked.
The unheralded Ruscello shunted the Cummings-prepared Precedence out of the Cup field with an all-the-way Lexus win, meaning it is the first time Bart has not had a Cup runner since 2006.
Mount Athos’ extravagant owner Marwan Koukash is still having a hard time convincing a sceptical media throng about the dual purpose of his Australian visit.
‘‘I’m here not to just watch my horse win, but to shop and try to steal your best players,’’ said Koukash, also the owner of English Super League club Salford. ‘‘Every top player ... we’ll be after. You don’t believe it, do you?’’
On top of that list is apparently Sonny Bill Williams if Koukash’s comments last week are to be believed.
And his unshakeable ambition extends to Mount Athos, who is tying to hand Luca Cumani his first Melbourne Cup at his eighth attempt.
‘‘If we don’t win – and it’s a big ‘if’ – we’ll just try again next year,’’ Koukash said. ‘‘I always say that we will keep trying and I’ll never stop racing until I win the Melbourne Cup. The Melbourne Cup is the ultimate and the Cup I want more than anything else.’’
In the dark
All hell will break loose in the mounting yard if Dandino happens to win tomorrow’s Melbourne Cup – and syndicator Darren Dance won’t have a clue who to celebrate with.
The Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock owner is none the wiser about some of the import’s connections, who have every reason to be buoyant after his slashing Caulfield Cup run.
‘‘When you syndicate a racehorse, anyone in racing in this country ... all they want to do is get a runner in the Melbourne Cup,’’ Dance said. ‘‘That’s really my job, to give everyday people and big business people the opportunity to do that and we pride ourselves on that.
‘‘Even though I might only sell 18 shares and send out 18 invoices, before I know it there might be 60 or 70 people in those syndicates and that horse. You can have 2per cent of the cost, but still 100per cent of the fun.’’
Forget the fashionistas in the birdcage, Mark Kavanagh’s stylish cream get-up – or was it white? – was the style stunner at the Victoria Racing Club’s chairman’s dinner on Thursday night.
Quickly getting over Atlantic Jewel’s retirement with the Cox Plate at her mercy, Kavanagh was almost unanimously voted best on ground.
And then it came to the serious business of discussing the prospects of his Melbourne Cup hope Super Cool – much like the trainer himself.
‘‘From day one he’s been set to race on Tuesday and that will probably be his test,’’ Kavanagh said of questions over whether the Cox Plate was the Australian Cup winner’s main aim in the spring.