Fairytale win for Afghan veteran Disney in Royal Artillery Gold Cup
Afghan war veteran Guy Disney spilled over with emotion as he celebrated riding Rathlin Rose to victory in the Royal Artillery Gold Cup at Sandown eight years after losing his leg below the right knee.
Disney who was injured when his vehicle was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in Helmand Province in July 2009, looked skywards as he headed back to the winners’ enclosure past cheering crowds.
The 34-year-old, who wears a prosthetic leg below his right knee, said after the victory for trainer David Pipe: “The feeling is extraordinary. As I came in after the race and people were cheering, there were a lot of things to think about, like the lads who aren’t here.
“I’m only in this position because of all the people around me from the moment I got injured, from the lad putting on a tourniquet and saving my life to the surgeons who looked after me in hospital, the physios who treated me, the people who helped me get my licence back and the Pipes, who have been amazing.
“It’s an amazing sport, racing. I loved my time in my army and it’s hard to replicate it but I adore this.”
Disney, who made history by riding in the race two years ago when coming third, bided his time on the 13-8 favourite before taking charge after the Pond Fence to win by four and a half lengths.
He added: “When I lost my leg I remember getting a letter from Fergie Sutherland, the Gold Cup-winning trainer, who lost his leg in the [Korean] war but then rode in point-to-points.
"I applied quite quickly for a licence but got turned down. But there were reasons why not and I worked on them. It’s amazing but it hasn’t happened in six or seven minutes riding the horse but all the hours that have been put into it."
Pipe said: “It’s fantastic. Guy came down and schooled Rathlin Rose last week. It’s a great race to win. Guy is an inspiration to me and to everyone. We all get wrapped in our worlds, me included, but this puts everything into context. The reception he got was amazing.”