Blackpool businessman Maurice McCarthy is hoping that all the hunger pangs and hard work will pay off when he takes part in a charity horse race at Ascot on Friday.
And in the process he is aiming to thwart the ambitions of former England footballer Michael Owen.
McCarthy and Owen are two of the riders who are taking part in the charity race at Ascot on Friday to raise funds for the Prince’s Countryside Fund.
The 49-year-old McCarthy is a veteran of such races, while Owen has been in serious training for the contest run over seven furlongs of The Queen’s racecourse.
McCarthy is aboard a horse called Mr Red Clubs, while Owen, who owns a big training complex in Cheshire, is aboard Calder Prince, trained by Tom Dascombe.
Owen has had a few adventures in the build-up to his racecourse ‘debut’.
He has come off his horse twice in practice and on one occasion broke a finger.
McCarthy said: “Michael is on the best horse in the race Calder Prince, who is 17 pounds clear of mine on ratings.
“It is all right riding a horse in a gallop, but it is a different thing entirely taking part in an actual race, as Michael will find out on Friday.
“I know that Michael is taking it all very seriously.
“He hired Wolverhampton racecourse last week, so that he could have a private gallop.
“I have dieted like mad to get ready for this. I am down to 12st 4lb and should be down to 12st on Friday.”
McCarthy, a former amateur rugby league player, added: “I am as ready as I have ever been for race and I am really looking forward to locking horns with Michael Owen.
“I have a lot of people to thank including trainer Alan Berry for allowing me to use us facilities and to another trainer Henry Tett, who trains Mr Red Clubs.
“I have also had a lot of support from my better half Lauren and my children, Johnson, Ellie, Chloe and Lilly, as well as my business partner Darren for all his support too.”
Friday’s line-up in the charity race at Ascot includes Qatari Sheikh Fahad, as well as a vet, an event rider, a portfolio manager, a trainer’s wife and a science teacher.
The race is being held in aid of the Prince’s Countryside Fund, which was founded by the Prince Of Wales to help secure a better future for British farmers and the countryside.
McCarthy has set up a just giving page for donations, adding: “I would really appreciate my town’s help with sponsoring such a good cause.”
The web address is http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/MauriceMcCarthy.
Owen is taking part in the race, despite wise counsel suggesting that it is not such a good idea.
He said of Friday’s challegne: “I know I’m stupid.
“I’d probably had a couple of drinks when I agreed to do it, but once I set myself a target, I put my mind to it and I am determined to win,
“I was never as nervous as this in my football career.
“In my 37 years I had never sat on a horse – and never been allowed to because of football.”
Calder Prince’s trainer Dascombe said: “The horse is good enough to win; now Michael has to show that he can.”