Military jockeys from all three services will take part in the Grand Military Gold Cup at Sandown on 9 March.

The 16 jockeys – many of whom have recently returned from Afghanistan – include a Red Arrows pilot and a Royal Marine Commando.

For many it will be the first time they have competed on such a demanding course.

Captain Rawdon-Mogg from the Household Cavalry Regiment has spent six months in the Nar-e-Saraj district of Helmand Province and will be riding “Chief Buccaneer” in the race.

He said: “Before I started this training I had no idea of the strength and fitness required to be a jockey. But I’m really looking forward to competing on the day.”

Seamus Mullins has been training military jockeys at his stables in Wilsford for 25 years.

He said: “They are all on a very steep learning curve but the main thing is that they feel confident enough to enjoy the day at Sandown and not let their Regiment’s down.”

The Grand Military Gold Cup offers servicemen and women the unique opportunity to ride at one of Britain’s most prestigious National Hunt racecourses.

Jockey representative on the Gold Cup race committee Major Erica Bridges said: “You need a lot of courage, fitness, and strength to control a powerful racehorse – all the qualities that you look for in a soldier on the battlefield in Afghanistan.”

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