Fairytale success for Disney at Sandown
Afghan war veteran Captain Guy Disney reflected on an "extraordinary" success after claiming Royal Artillery Gold Cup glory at Sandown yesterday - eight years after losing his right leg below the knee.
Disney was injured when his vehicle was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade while he was serving in Helmand Province in July 2009.
His initial application to ride with a prosthetic limb was turned down by the British Horseracing Authority, but he was eventually granted a licence a couple of years ago and steered Ballyallia Man to third in the 2015 renewal of this contest, which is confined to military amateur riders.
Disney's latest mount, the David Pipe-trained Rathlin Rose, was the 13/8 favourite and the 34-year-old rider was content to bide his time for much of the extended three-mile contest.
As the pacesetters faltered, Rathlin Rose hit the front on the run to the second-last and was driven out to score by four and a half lengths from Ardkilly Witness.
Disney said: "I'm only in this position thanks to the lads who helped save my life, the surgeons that looked after me in hospital and the physios that treated me.
"I bust my ACL three weeks ago and the Injured Jockeys Fund got me back on track. I've not ridden in a race since three weeks ago, so the credit is to all them.
"I'm only here because of the hard work of other people. It's because of them I've had this opportunity and I'm very lucky. Some don't make it back."
He added: "Racing is an amazing sport, it really is. I loved my time in the army and I feel it is very hard to replicate, but I adore this and it's a really special feeling.
"It's a lucky gig to do this sort of thing as there are a lot of people who couldn't."