Guy Disney is set to make history by becoming the first amputee jockey to race over the Grand National fences.
The former soldier, who lost his lower right leg in Afghanistan in 2009, is to ride in the Randox Health Foxhunters’ Chase over the Aintree course on 12 April, the first day of the Grand National meeting.
Last February, Guy became the first amputee to win a race under Rules in Britain, taking the Royal Artillery Gold Cup at Sandown on Raithlin Rose, a feat the combination repeated this year.
He assembled a syndicate to buy his Foxhunters’ ride Gallery Exhibition, who is trained by Kim Bailey.
“It will be an extraordinary feat,” said Kim, who also trained 1990 Grand National winner Mr Frisk.
“I saw Guy when he was in hospital, in Selly Oak, so I’ve known the story from day one. When he was lying in hospital, all he wanted to do was get back in the saddle and ride in a race; that was his ultimate dream.
“We all thought he had no chance really. And he then rode in a charity race and finished second.
“Since then he’s moved on to prove himself under Rules and in point-to-points. The hours he’s spent with Yogi Breisner and others trying to help him to get back in the saddle and get the BHA [British Horseracing Authority] to agree to let him ride, have been extraordinary.”
Kim explained that Gallery Exhibition, whom Guy had ridden and known for years, was for sale as one of his previous syndicate members died. Guy formed Somerset Racing to buy the 11-year-old, with the Foxhunters’ as his aim.
Captain Guy Disney made history at Sandown Park by becoming the first person to win a race under Rules wearing
Nestled in the north of Scotland is an equestrian set-up helping to get injured servicemen’s lives back on track. Melanie
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The gelding has raced over the Grand National fences before, coming fifth in the Topham Chase in 2016, and he and Guy finished third in a hunter chase at Musselburgh on 3 February.
“Everyone has a dream, everyone has a wish to do something in life and this is Guy’s,” Kim said. “He wants more than anything else to ride around those fences.”
A Grand National festival opening ceremony will be held this year for the first time on 12 April, featuring previous National winners Bindaree, Silver Birch, Mon Mome, Neptune Collonges, Pineau De Re and Rule The World.
Don’t miss next week’s H&H magazine, out 12 April, for your full guide to this year’s Grand National.