MICHAEL OWEN has made a £36,000 gamble on star sprinter Flaming Rib.
The former England hero, 42, has coughed up the cash so the three-year-old colt can run in Saturday's blockbuster Darley July Cup.
An unlucky runner-up at Group 1 and Group 2 level in his previous two runs, former Liverpool striker Owen reckons now is the time for his stable star to strike.
Flaming Rib was not entered for the Newmarket showpiece.
So Owen and the horse's three other co-owners have paid the £36,000 supplementary fee.
He needs to finish third or better otherwise the owners will end up out of pocket.
A best-price 10-1 shot, the Hugo Palmer-trained runner will renew rivalries with his Royal Ascot conqueror Perfect Power as well as fancied Australian runner Artorius.
Charlie Appleby's Naval Crown, the shock 33-1 winner of the Platinum Jubilee Stakes, and stablemate Creative Force are also expected to run.
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But Owen reckons Flaming Rib – who would win £356,000 with victory, £135,000 for second and £68,000 for third – deserves his place in the star-studded line-up.
And a shot at revenge with Commonwealth Cup hero Perfect Power.
He told Nick Luck: "He ran a great race at Ascot and is as tough as nails with a fair amount of ability.
"If we thought he was a Group 1 horse then he would have been in the race already!
"The improvement over his last couple of races has astounded us.
"He is a Group 1 type of horse and we have to give him a chance.
"The supplementary fee – that's how much the horse cost himself! We have to give him every opportunity to fulfil his potential.
"But he owes us nothing, he only cost £35,000 and has taken us everywhere and is so honest, he's tough with a great atttidue.
"We'd be foolish not to send him into this type of company.
"Fourth or better from a financial point of view would be great but it's not the priority, we want to race in the best races."
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