Prince Charles unveils giant horse head statue birthday gift at Ascot racecourse

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall attend the Prince’s Countryside Fund Raceday at Ascot Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA

Prince Charles has unveiled a 12ft statue of a horse's head - a belated birthday gift from Ascot racecourse.

The Prince of Wales, who turned 70 last week, unveiled the 1.5-tonne, bronze statue for the Prince's Countryside Fund Raceday on Friday.

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 Charles's birthday.

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.

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.

Charles and Camilla cutting a 70th birthday cake made by Fiona Cairns Credit: 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.

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.

Charles and Camilla hand the trophy to jockey Rosie Margarson. Credit: 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.