Michael Owen 'nervous and excited' about Ascot riding debut

Former England international footballer Michael Owen makes his debut in the saddle in a charity race at Ascot on Friday. The renowned striker, who also starred for Liverpool, Real Madrid, Newcastle and Manchester United  (scoring a hat-full of goals against my beloved West ham United along the way) will compete against other eager amateurs in a seven-furlong contest in aid of the Prince's Countryside Trust.

Since hanging up his football boots in 2013, Owen, 37, has devoted most of his time to his Manor House Stables in Cheshire and it is one of his trainer Tom Dascombe's string that will give him his first taste of race-riding. That horse is Calder Prince, a four-year-old gelding rated 88 and winner of four of his 27 starts. Owen cannot wait to get the leg-up at Ascot where enjoyed success as an owner-breeder with Brown Panther at the Royal meeting in 2011.

"As the race gets closer I'm getting both nervous and excited about it," he said. "It's been a massive learning curve for me and having thought initially that this would be quite easy, I've come to the realisation that that couldn't be any further from the truth. From riding out in the morning, to being thrown off and then galloping on a racecourse, it's been a fantastic few months. I've had success as an owner at Ascot, but this will be a completely different experience and I can't wait. Riding has given 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. The first time I sat on the horse I will be riding in the race, Calder Prince, I felt like I had gone 12 rounds with Mike Tyson the next day. As a competitive man I'd love to win, but I think just this once, I'll be happy to participate and hopefully make it across the finish line having enjoyed the experience and knowing I have raised valuable funds for some great charities in the Prince's Countryside Fund, Prostate Cancer UK, Alder Hey Children's Hospital and Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, part of the Manchester Foundation Charity Trust."

Among Owen's nine rivals in the charity race is leading owner Sheikh Fahad, who rides Ghalib for David Simcock. Donations to Michael Owen's JustGiving page can be made here: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/MichaelOwen10