The Melbourne Cup Carnival is 24 hours from kicking off and the Victoria Racing Club has just announced a huge international guest as its 2023 ambassador.
Gemma Owen is a dressage champion and former reality TV star who appeared on Love Island UK and has millions of followers.
The 20-year-old is also the eldest child of international soccer star Michael Owen, who played for Liverpool, Real Madrid and his country at the height of his football career in the 90s and early Noughties.
While Aussies may be forgiven for not recognising Gemma, she’s soon to become a household name in Australia, jetting in for this year’s Melbourne Cup after being announced as the 2023 ambassador by the VRC.
It’s the first time Gemma has visited our shores, flying in to attend the Penfolds Victoria Derby Day on Saturday before appearing trackside for Cup Day Tuesday.
“I’m super excited to experience Australia and the race. I’ve heard so many good things about Melbourne Cup, so it’s definitely been something on my bucket list for a while,” Gemma exclusively told news.com.au.
The young star is no stranger to the world of horses and racing, with her mother Louise being an horse rider while her father, a former England striker, also partially owning Brown Panther, a horse which ranked in the top 10 in the 2013.
“We actually had a horse running in the Melbourne Cup back in 2013. And so my dad and my family went out to watch so it’d be definitely nice to experience it myself,” she explained.
The international soccer star’s daughter is no stranger to attending some of the biggest racing events in the world, having been at everything from Royal Ascot, Dubai World Cup, Prix de l’Arc de Tromphe and most recently British Champions Day.
However, preparation for the Melbourne Cup Carnival has been a little different given the huge travel time it takes to get to Australia.
On the day, Gemma said it all comes down to it being “really nice to make that effort in what you’re wearing and make sure you’re looking and feeling your best”.
Gemma revealed to news.com.au for her attendance at the Melbourne Cup Carnival she would be wearing custom designs for each day that had “never been seen before”.
But she was curious as to how the fashion would play out in comparison to other races she’d attended in the past.
“It’s obviously the first time I’ve been to the Melbourne Cup but I think for Derby Day, I’m guessing there will be a lot of bold looks,” she said.
“I think for the Melbourne Cup we’ll be seeing a lot of colour and really bright, sort of wild designs, which is quite different for me, but I’m really looking forward to sort of see what everyone’s wearing.”
Gemma said the horses and how the race plays out is always a highlight when attending a meet.
“For this particular race meeting, I’m just really excited to be a part of something at this level,” she said.
“I’ve obviously been to quite a few tracks, but I’ve been told that this is sort of better than anywhere else. It’s really incredible. And that the Bird Cage is a special and unique thing to Flemington, so I’m really excited just to embrace it all.”
Gemma is a champion horse rider in her own right, competing in the international dressage circuit, which is when a horse and a rider perform a series of predetermined movements to be judged and scored. She most recently ranked at the European Championships 2021.
But, would she ever ditch the world of dressage for the world of racing?
“I would potentially give it a go in a charity race or something,” she said.
“I have gone up a few times using the gallops at my dad’s stables, but yeah, dressage is what I’ve done forever so I’m pretty set on it on my discipline.”
For now, Gemma is content working with brand new fashion brands and experiencing all that life has to offer, as well continue her competitions in the dressage world as it is something she is incredibly serious about.
The Magic Melbourne Cup Carnival runs from Saturday 4 November to Saturday 11 November. Seeing is believing. Tickets at Ticketmaster or for more information, visit here