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Amputee war veteran Guy Disney delights in historic racing victory

Guy Disney, seen riding Ballyallia Man to third in 2015, went two places better at Sandown. Credit: PA

A former soldier who lost his lower right leg in Afghanistan has hailed his "extraordinary" success after becoming the first amputee jockey to win at a professional racecourse in Britain.

War veteran Captain Guy Disney suffered the life-changing injury when his vehicle was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in Helmand Province in July 2009.

He said his thoughts turned to his fallen colleagues when he raced through the line to claim Royal Artillery Gold Cup glory at Sandown on board Rathlin Rose.

"There was a lot to think about, like the lot that aren't here," said the 34-year-old, who rides with a prosthetic leg.

Guy Disney, seen riding Bonchester Bridge a few months before his life-changing injuries in July 2009. Credit: PA

"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."

Disney said victory was a "really special feeling" as he delighted in his post-service passion.

"Racing is an amazing sport, it really is," he said. "I loved my time in the army and I feel it is very hard to replicate, but I adore this."

Disney had steered Ballyallia Man to third place in 2015 in the contest that is confined to military amateur riders, but said he had not enjoyed praise at the achievement.

Guy Disney said he was left with mixed feelings after his third-placed finish in 2015. Credit: PA

"It was quite frustrating when there was a lot of fuss for finishing third," he said.

"Anyone who is in this wants to win it and the attention then should have been on Jody (Sole), who won it, not on some one-legged bloke hobbling back in. It's just nice to go a few places better now."

Rathlin Rose's trainer David Pipe hailed Disney as an inspiration but admitted he had not grasped the signifance of the jockey's achievement until the crowd erupted.

"The reception he got when he came back in was superb," he said. "I didn't appreciate how big a thing it is. Guy was very excited about it. He was speechless afterwards and just said 'thank you'.

Trainer David Pipe said Guy Disney's achievement 'puts things into context'. Credit: PA

"He's inspirational to everyone. It puts things into context. We all get wrapped up in our own little world and that's me included."

Disney's initial application to ride with a prosthetic limb was turned down by the British Horseracing Authority before he was eventually granted a licence a couple of years ago.

The victorious Disney also thanked the Injured Jockeys Fund for helping him in recent weeks after he suffered a knee injury last month.

"I'm only here because of the hard work of other people," he said. "It's because of them I've had this opportunity and I'm very lucky. Some don't make it back."