Former top footballer Michael Owen took to the saddle for his race debut yesterday (24 November), finishing runner-up in the Prince’s Countryside Fund charity race at Ascot.

The 37-year-old, who only started riding this year, partnered the Tom Dascombe-trained Calder Prince. The handler is based at Michael’s Manor House Stables in Cheshire.

“He’s a diamond of a horse. I can’t keep the smile off my face and I loved it. It was better than I expected and we seemed to go really quick early on — that’s probably the fastest I’ve ever been on a horse,” Michael told Racing UK after the seven-furlong contest.

“He whipped through to the front off the bend and I thought ‘come on now’ but it was a long final furlong and I got very tired.

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The eventual winner, point-to-point jockey Tom Chatfield-Roberts, partnered the Eve Johnson Houghton-trained Golden Wedding.

The rider has recently qualified from the Royal Veterinary College and has pointed for the past six seasons, riding over 20 winners.

“It was a great thrill to get past the winning post at Ascot in front,” said Tom. “The race was good fun, but we went a little bit quicker than I’m used to. It was a great experience and a day I will never forget.”

The winning trainer said on Twitter: “Well done to Tom C-R for winning the charity race on Golden Wedding. Sorry Michael Owen for beating you. You gave it a great ride. Well done.”

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall attended Ascot racecourse today to award the prize-winners following the charity race.

Qatari racehorse owner Sheikh Fahad Al Thani came home in third — having first ridden in a charity race in 2015 — while event rider Harry Meade finished sixth.

Between the 10 “jockeys” who took part, around £40,000 was raised through sponsorship in aid of the Prince’s Countryside Fund.

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