Michael Owen prepares for horse racing debut at Ascot today

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Not many former Ballon d’Or winners have ridden a winner at Ascot.

But come 12:15 this afternoon, Michael Owen could be adding his name to that so far rather threadbare list.

That’s because the ex-Manchester United and England striker will ride the Tom Dascombe trained Calder Prince in The Prince’s Countryside Fund Charity Race just after midday.

It will be Owen’s debut as a jockey after enjoying years of success as a racehorse owner and breeder.

The Liverpool legend always showed a great turn of pace in the final third – now he just needs to transfer that to the final furlong.

However, things may be a little difficult on Calder Prince.

Since being gelded in October 2016, the son of Dark Angel has clocked up just a single win in 15 runs on the flat.

He’s showed some promise over 7f at least, and that should give Owen a chance.

And while we’re not offering a price on the 37-year-old becoming 2018 Champion Jockey just yet, he can take encouragement from previous celebrities that have jumped in the saddle.

Former Olympic champion Victoria Pendleton enjoyed a brief jump racing career between 2015 and 2016.

Her most famous race came when finishing fifth in the Foxhunter Chase at Cheltenham just over a year ago.

And don’t forget HRH Prince Charles.

The heir to the throne rode a small number of races as an amateur back in the 1980s, including at Cheltenham, where he was a faller.

Owen has a slightly easier task over the flat today.

Plus, if he is a faller this afternoon, at least on this type of turf he won’t be booked for diving.

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Nick Murphy

Nick is a graduate of the UEA where he doubled up as the sports editor of the student newspaper. He supports Dagenham & Redbridge and previously edited the matchday programme at Victoria Road. Darts and Horse Racing are among his other favourite sports.