TO amputee jockey Captain Guy Disney, it was just another day in an extraordinary life – successfully completing the world famous Grand National course at his first attempt.
To the world of racing, it was one of the bravest, and most courageous, pieces of horsemanship ever witnessed at Aintree which has witnessed so much human and equine heroism through the years.
For this is the soldier, a keen rider in his younger days, who was determined to return to the saddle after losing the lower half of his right leg when his Army vehicle was blown up in Afghanistan in 2009 by a rocket-propelled grenade attack.
And, after fighting the racing authorities to convince them that a prosthetic leg posed no risk to himself, or his horse, in the event of a fall, he won Sandown’s Royal Artillery Gold Cup just over a year ago.
It was then that Disney began to contemplate riding the National course, the greatest test of all, and trainer Kim Bailey – a long-time ally – allowed him to ride Gallery Exhibition.
The last of the 12 finishers, he did successfully negotiate iconic obstacles like the Chair, Becher’s Brook and Canal Turn on a horse who was unsuited by the soft going. “It’s the sort of thing you’d do every day until you die if you could, it’s very special,” he said before acknowledging the qualities of his competitors. “Riding with Jamie Codd, just in front of you, and Derek O’Connor and Nina Carberry alongside, popping away. It’s amazing.
“He’s the most gorgeous horse, but it was really soft ground and he found it really hard work.”
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