The Prince of Wales has revealed his passion for horse racing, during an ITV interview with Brough Scott. The heir to the throne was speaking ahead of the The Prince’s Countryside Fund Charity Race at Ascot.
Horse racing is often described as the ‘Sport of Kings’, and it is well known that the Prince’s mother, Her Majesty The Queen is a huge fan. But it an ITV interview, Prince Charles revealed his own reasons for enjoying the sport.
When asked why he took an interest in horse racing at the age of 31, Prince Charles said: “I wanted to understand what it was like from a jockey’s perspective. A lot of people don’t understand, you go to the races, and you just see people galloping around. You have no idea, until you do it, what incredibly hard work it is, and how much technique, practice, application and fitness there has to be.”
The Prince, now 69, also revealed the amount of hard work required in training, including using a bicycle with no saddle to simulate riding a horse. He said, “I ran, I also bicycled endlessly, on a bicycle, where you take the seat off!”
“So you can’t sit down”, Charles chuckled.
The future King also noted the difference in normal horse riding to being a jockey. “It’s much easier on the flat, you just keep going straight, [you’re not] meeting the fences all the time.”
Prince Charles bought his first racehorse, Allibar, in 1980, and entered his first race. “He was a very special horse, he had the right front on him.” Charles revealed that he had butterflies in his stomach, before the race, but that his nerves helped him find a rhythm. “Once you get going, you stay calmer.”
The Prince was in the lead during the first circuit, but then revealed that he could hear rival horses getting closer, before they overtook him. He joked, “I thought, for God’s sake, I’m going fast enough as it is, I can’t go any faster!” He finished in second position, and spoke of the “elation” of the event.
But, he also recalled the death of his horse, “He crashed onto the ground. I just held his head, while the life drained out of him. I couldn’t bear it, to see the life going out of his eyes.”
After Allibar’s death, the Prince invested in a new horse, named Good Prospect, who he said once “hit the top of the fence and dropped the shoulder, and I wasn’t nearly experienced enough to stay on!” After Prince Charles fell to the ground, other horses “galloped over” him, and “disappeared so fast, that you’re left in silent despair!”
The Prince of Wales was then joined by The Duchess of Cornwall to discuss their passion for the British countryside, and spoke of The Prince’s Countryside Fund, which was established in 2010, and its work in improving family farms and rural life.
The Duchess of Cornwall spoke about one of her horses in training, and said “for a moment, we thought we were going to be in the derby, didn’t we?” Prince Charles responded by joking, “Oh yes, those dreams!”
The couple are due to head to Ascot for a charity horse racing event on Friday.
UK readers can watch the interview, which formed part of ITV’s Cheltenham race coverage, here for another few weeks, or a Youtube video below.