Charles remembers his jockey days as Michael Owen rides into second place
The Prince of Wales has reminisced about his days as an amateur jockey after congratulating former England striker Michael Owen on his first race.
Owen was beaten into second place in a hard-fought charity race in aid of Charles' countryside initiative, and waiting in the parade ring to greet the ten riders, and present them with awards, was the prince and the Duchess of Cornwall.
The ex-Liverpool and Manchester United forward, who only learned to ride earlier this year, was passed in the final stages of his debut race by Tom Chatfield-Roberts, a vet who finished strongly.
During his day at the races the prince joked about the training he did to get in shape when he took to the saddle in the early 1980s - famously falling at Cheltenham.
Ascot racecourse in Berkshire has opened its doors to hold a racing weekend for the prince's Countryside Fund, a project started by Charles in 2010 to provide financial support and other help to rural and farming communities.
Owen, who lost more than a stone to make the riding weight, said he tired towards the end of the seven-furlong race.
He told the Daily Mirror website: "I love it, it was better than I expected. It went really quick early on - that was probably the fastest I've ever been on a horse."
Owen, who rode his own mount, said: "I was telling my horse 'come on boy, come on boy' - he (the winner) was screaming at his horse."
Charles and Camilla are developing a passion for horse racing, with John Warren, the Queen's racing and bloodstock manager, describing last year that the prince has "got the bug".
They have two horses, one-time Derby hope Carntop and Pacify, in training, with the Duchess joking in a recent interview she has high hopes.
At an Ascot fundraising lunch in aid of Charles's Countryside Fund, the prince was presented with a framed copy of his racing silks and told the charity racing event - now in its third year - had raised more than £1 million during that period.
The heir to the throne reminisced with the guests about training to get in shape to ride: "All those years ago I remember the struggle to try and get fit, fit enough to ride in these races. I hadn't realised until I did it just what unbelievable hard work it is.
"You go to the races, you watch people gallop past and you think 'oh splendid', but you don't actually understand until you do it, what you have to get on with.
"I remember the only way I could get fit was by riding a bike, which I was recommended to, without a saddle - not something you want to take on lightly."