The question Michael Owen, the ex-footballer turned racehorse owner, was asking himself at Haydock Park Racecourse last Saturday was: “Where do you start with this one?”
A racecourse debut, as a jockey, at Ascot Racecourse on Friday, November 24 in the Prince’s Countryside Fund Charity Race, covering seven-furlongs, is the goal Owen has set for himself.
Calder Prince, trained by Tom Dascombe at Owen’s purpose built yard, near Malpas, has been pencilled in as a possible mount for the former Liverpool, Real Madrid, Manchester United and England striker in the race.
The four-year-old has already run three times at Chester Racecourse during the current season and finished third at Haydock Park on his last outing earlier this month.
“It’s been my intention to ride two to three lots, but everyday I have excuses, it’s two and a half months to the race now and I really must knuckle down, I’m going to be the least experienced in the race,” said Owen to The Chester Chronicle’s racing correspondent Beverley Dee.
“I’ve done my first canter up the gallops and need to get my head down now and get into riding. I’d never been on a horse before.
“Tom (Dascombe) said to me, you’ll sink or swim and you need bottle. I stayed on the stable hack and after the second day I started to enjoy the riding.
“It’s a big step up to riding thoroughbreds, it’s exhilarating but it’s going to be a big challenge for me. It’s a 0-90 race so they are going to go off quick. I need to improve my style.
“It’s created a good atmosphere in the yard and there’ll probably be a couple of coach loads going down to watch the race.
“I’ve got to go to Newmarket; there’s a few hoops to jump through and I need to get down to a suitable weight. Riding uses different muscles so it’s going to be hard. I’ve lost about 6lbs and I’ve another stone to lose.
“Riding gives me a greater appreciation of racing. I’ve done the business side, been to the sales and watched the breaking-in and training, I’ve done the whole thing, but racing is a new insight.”
When lining up at the start Owen expects: “A lot of nerves, because I’ve never done it before. Then I’ll start to think, you’ve got to win this, that’s my competitive juices and I know that’s what I’m like. Hopefully a lot of charities will benefit.”
Owen added: “Racing is a great experience and comes close to replicating the feeling of scoring a goal!”
Founded in 2010, The Prince’s Countryside Fund runs a number of programmes and provides of £1.5million in the form of grants each year, which focus on the future of British farming and the countryside.