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Charles unveils horse head statue birthday gift at Ascot racecourse

The royal was joined by his wife Camilla for the Prince’s Countryside Fund Raceday.

The Prince of Wales has unveiled a 12ft high bronze horse head statue which he was presented as a belated 70th birthday gift from Ascot racecourse.

Charles, who turned 70 last week, and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, were at the racecourse for the Prince’s Countryside Fund Raceday on Friday.

The prince and duchess unveiled the 1.5-tonne statue in the racecourse’s pre-parade ring to mark his 70th birthday.

The bronze monument depicting a horse’s head in a strong wind was created by Nic Fiddian-Green and is called Into The Wind.

The new statue was commissioned by Ascot racecourse as a gift for the prince’s birthday.

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Charles and Camilla with artist Nic Fiddian-Green after unveiling the statue (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Mr Fiddian-Green is a British sculptor whose famous 10-metre bronze horse head statute was installed at Marble Arch In 2011.

The royal couple met patrons and supporters of the charity fund which Charles founded in 2010 to support British farmers and the countryside.

Farmer James Richards was a beneficiary of the charity’s farm resilience programme which helps farmers by providing them with business skills and training.

The beef farmer from Cornwall said he and the prince, who is patron of the charity, spoke briefly about Red Ruby Devon cattle. The prince is a patron of the Devon Cattle Breeders’ Society.

Mr Richards said it was a wonderful experience to meet Charles and Camilla.

He added: “It was a bit surreal for a beef farmer from the darkest depths of Cornwall. It’s not an everyday occurrence.

“We talked about the farm resilience fund, the influence it’s had on us directly and what a good thing it has been for the farming community as a whole.

“We also talked about our local breed, the Red Ruby Devon cattle, which he is the patron of.

“He is a very, very knowledgeable man about farming, which a lot of people would not expect. It’s a passion that’s very close to his heart and he has had a fantastic influence on farming.”

After meeting guests, Charles was wished a belated 70th birthday by Johnny Weatherby, chairman of Ascot racecourse, and presented a miniature of the horse head sculpture.

The prince broke into a fit of laughter when he and the Duchess had trouble cutting the cake, which was made by Fiona Cairns.

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Charles and Camilla cutting a 70th birthday cake made by Fiona Cairns (Nicole Hains/Ascot/PA)

Stepping back from the cake, he said “you can do it” to Camilla. But he returned to finish the first cut with his wife.

Charles and Camilla presented trophies to the winners of the Prince’s Countryside Fund Charity Race and the Waitrose Handicap Steeple Chase.

The Prince’s Countryside Fund Charity Race featured 12 riders, including British model Rosie Tapner.

Rosie Margarson, daughter of racehorse trainer George, on Caribbean Spring took the prize, with Tapner coming in seventh.

Charles and Camilla also presented the trophy to the winning owners of Mr Medic, which won the Waitrose Handicap Steeple Chase.

Each year the Prince’s Countryside Fund fund provides up to £1.2 million in grants to projects across the UK as well as running its own initiatives such as the farm resilience programme.

Projects range from apprenticeships for budding hill farmers, training for young people to gain employment in the rural economy, community transport schemes in isolated areas and providing village shops and services in rural communities.

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Charles and Camilla hand the trophy to jockey Rosie Margarson (Gareth Fuller/PA)

The fund also operates an emergency fund for times of need which has so far given more than £8.5 million to 225 projects across the country.

Since the first Prince’s Countryside Fund Raceday in 2015, more than £1 million has been raised at Ascot racecourse.

This is the fourth year that the event has been held at the racecourse and the third time the royal couple have attended.

Claire Saunders, director of the Prince’s Countryside Fund, said that as a farmer himself the prince really understood the countryside.

She said it was “really special” to have the prince at the charity’s biggest fundraiser of the year.

Ms Saunders added: “It’s wonderful, it’s the culmination of so many things.

“It’s just so lovely to see the money coming in that we can put to good practical use.

“Racing is part of the British countryside. The people who work in the countryside and run it are linked so closely to the countryside.”

Television gardener Alan Titchmarsh, who is an ambassador for the charity, praised the prince and his charity for their work supporting farmers and the countryside.

He said: “The Prince’s Countryside Fund does a heck of a lot to support those small farmers who find themselves struggling. It’s made an enormous difference. Keeping small farms going as an important part of local communities is vital.”

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