ALL bets will be on Afghanistan amputee and polar explorer Captain Guy Disney when he makes racing history today and becomes the first jockey to ride in a steeplechase with an artificial leg.
The inspirational soldier, whose right leg was blown off by a rocket-propelled grenade while he was serving with the Light Dragoons in 2009, will partner Ballyallia Man in the prestigious Royal Artillery Gold Cup at Sandown for amateur riders.
Despite his disability, Disney showed amazing fortitude when conquering both the North and South Poles as part of major fundraising expeditions spearheaded by Prince Harry – the Antarctica mission also included Captain Ibrar Ali of York.
Always a keen horseman, Disney rode in the corresponding race in 2008 and 2009 before his mission to Afghanistan. He had to receive dispensation from the British Horseracing Authority to ride in point-to-point races ahead of today’s three-mile test.
Disney’s horse is trained in the Westcountry by Tom George and the rider has been receiving riding tips from the handler’s assistant, Tjade Collier, who served his apprenticeship at Sue and Harvey Smith’s stables near Bingley.
“It’s part of history,” said the trainer. “You have to take your hat off to Guy. He’s thinking of the future not the past. He’s showing that you can still live your life and do what you want to.”
Disney’s race came as the Royal British Legion confirmed that last year’s Poppy Appeal raised a record £3m in Yorkshire.