Racecourse doctor Guy Mitchell rode into sporting history on Thursday (25 July) when he became the first person with one eye to ride in a British horse race.
The impressive feat has been a 30-year ambition for the 45-year-old, who has always wanted to continue the racing tradition within his family — his father, Philip Mitchell, is a former trainer and champion amateur jockey, while half-brothers, Freddie and Jack, are jockeys.
Despite finishing last of the eight-runner field, Guy has achieved a huge amount in enhancing the sport’s diversity — following the accomplishment set by Guy Disney, who in 2017 became the first amputee jockey to win a race in Britain.
The medic, who works at Ascot, Windsor and Goodwood racecourses, partnered the Amanda Perrett-trained Double Legend in division two of the Racing TV Amateur Riders’ Handicap at Newbury, which was won by the 11/10 favourite Blue Medici under Becky Smith.
Guy has lived with just one eye since the age of six, following the discovery of a tumour aged three.
He rode out for his father as a youngster, before applying for his jockey licence aged 16, which was rejected. His second application was also turned down while he was studying at medical school, so Thursday’s race was a long time coming for the rider.
“It was brilliant,” said Guy. “Although not quite the result I wanted, just getting there and riding in the race was excellent. It was a surreal feeling to be in the race and I couldn’t quite believe it was happening.
“I had almost given up hope of ever riding in a race but when I became a racecourse doctor in 2009, you could say it reignited the dream,” added Guy, who competed in a variety of Pony Club disciplines as a child.
“When I saw Guy Disney race-riding, it did make me think that perhaps I could give it a go. I spoke to the British Horseracing Authority’s [BHA] chief medical adviser Dr Jerry Hill about how the process might work to be passed fit by the BHA.
The rider lost her finger when her ring was caught in the rug strap of a horse who panicked and
Amateur jockey Guy Disney finished second in his return to the racecourse today, in a charity race at Fakenham
Take advantage of our sale on Horse & Hound magazine subscriptions today
“It involved an in-depth eye test and I also had my riding tested by Richard Perham at The British Racing School, before completing the amateur jockey assessment,” said Guy, who credits trainer Amanda Perrett, her husband Mark and their head lad Dean Angell — also the horse’s owner — for their support.
“Jerry also looked into other sports and made comparisons, for example, in Formula One it turned out I would be allowed to compete. I think it made a huge difference that this is something I have lived with for most of my life and, therefore, my brain has adapted to it.”
For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.