Football star Michael Owen finishes second as he turns jockey for fundraising race

24 November 2017, 13:44

Former professional footballer Michael Owen finished second in his jockey debut as he raced at Ascot in front of Prince Charles and Camilla.

The ex-England striker was taking part in the Prince's Countryside Fund's Racing Weekend, to raise funds for a charity set up by Charles to help British farmers and the countryside.

Owen owns and breeds racehorses, but has only got in the saddle himself this year.

Before the race, he said: "Experiencing first-hand quite how difficult it is has definitely increased my respect for jockeys.

"I am in a fortunate position that I have two horses at the stables that I could ride in the race.

"One is on the safer side, but I plan to ride the more challenging horse as I think it gives me the best chance of winning, and this was never just about taking part.

"Having said that, on this occasion I realise just crossing the line will be an achievement."

Owen, who played for Liverpool, Real Madrid, Newcastle, Manchester United and Stoke, admitted he'd fallen off the horses several times but said that didn't stop him catching "the bug".

For Friday's event in Berkshire, he rode Calder Prince, who he described as "a diamond".

The 2001 European Footballer of the Year added he hoped it was not his last race as he claimed he "caught the bug".

The Prince's fund provides £1.2m in grants every year to projects around the country, from apprenticeships, to community transport schemes to training for young people.

Owen is not the first sportsman to turn trade. Cyclist Bradley Wiggins announced he is to make his competitive rowing debut at the indoor championships in December.

Fellow cyclist Victoria Pendleton's eye was also caught by horse racing and she became a jockey last year.