Guy Disney struggled to hold back his emotions in the winner's enclosure
Disney, who lost his leg from the knee down in Afghanistan when his vehicle was struck by grenade in Helmand province in July 2009, received a hero’s welcome from the appreciative Sandown crowd.
Fighting back the tears and wiping his brow, Disney, 34, kept his composure and praised his winning mount and his old mates in the army.
“Just extraordinary,” said Disney. “When I was returning to the winners’ enclosure, I thought of that moment when I got injured and the lads putting a tourniquet on and saving my life.
“The surgeon who looked after me, the physio who treated me. The credit is all to the thanks of all of them. I’m only here because of the hard work from other people. It ‘s because of them that I have had this opportunity. I’m just very lucky. Some never came back.”
Disney’s remarkable determination is not surprising as he joined Prince Harry during his trek to the South Pole with Walking With The Wounded in 2013.
War amputee Guy Disney lost his leg from the knee down in Afghanistan
“The horse does the hard work,” said Disney. “David [Pipe the winning trainer] and his family have been amazing. They gave me a point-to-pointer, Swing Bill, when I got my licence back.
“Racing is an amazing sport. My term in the army, with a great group of people, is hard to replicate. But riding for me this is what life is about. I love this. It’s a very special feeling.
“When I lost my leg I remember getting a letter from Fergie Sutherland [the Cheltenham Gold Cup winning trainer who lost his leg in the Korean war] who rode in point-to-points. It inspired me to ride again.
“It’s a brilliant sport, it really is. There are unfortunately a lot of people who cannot do what I have wanted to do.
“Dreams do come true. It’s amazing but it’s down to the the hours you put in. You are only as good as the horse you are riding.”
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Pipe was also caught up in the emotion of the occasion, said: “Fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. Guy’s father picked me up off the floor on numerous times when I was a jockey. It’s nice to give something back to him.
“Guy’s an inspiration to everyone. It puts things into context. We all get wrapped up in our on little world – me included. The reception he got said it all.”
Brough Scott, a former amateur rider and now back as a present with the ITV racing team, has seen the game for a long time, remarked: “Racing has it’s share of heroes and there is no doubt Guy Disney is one of them.”