Sandown Park plays host today to the Royal Artillery Gold Cup and amongst the 10 military amateur riders taking part is an extraordinary man. Guy Disney lost his right leg from below the knee whilst on active duty in Helmand Province in 2009 and he will make racing history today when riding BALLYALLIA MAN.
Guy’s journey back into the saddle on the racecourse has not been smooth as his jockey licence application was originally declined by the BHA. Since that time he has enjoyed riding in a charity race at Fakenham and has been able to satisfy the authorities that his artificial limb is up to the stresses and strains of race riding. Guy enjoyed 2nd and 3rd placed rides in the Combined Service point-to-point at Larkhill last weekend – a great warm up to today’s race. This afternoon Guy will become the first jockey ever to race ride under Rules with a prosthetic leg within the UK. We wish him every success.
With the All-Weather season soon to reach its climax, this season has just 3 races left for amateur jockeys (Wolverhampton 7th & 16th February and season finale for the first time at Southwell on 25th March). With the professional season’s final raceday scheduled at Lingfield’s extravaganza on Good Friday 3rd April, this brings our corresponding seasons as near together as possible. Current positions are:
Multiple champion Simon Walker has dominated much of this season but he is being given a good run by Joanna Mason (below) who is enjoying her best season to date on this surface.
Serena Brotherton has leapt up the tables recently following her win at Southwell on Tuesday with AMAZING BLUE SKY for Ruth Carr (below) and joins Ross Birkett in third place (10 points).
Serena and Simon have been old adversaries for this championship title for the past few years and both currently share the 2013/14 title having finished last season on equal points! Following her win, Serena said “I was struggling for most of the way but then he came back on the bridle and I was left in front sooner than I intended. It wasn’t a great race but he’s a grand old horse.” (Now a 9 year old, Amazing Blue Sky was making his 107th start on the Flat and his 113th in total following a recent spell over jumps, and this was his 11th Flat win!)
This coming weekend sees the Fegentri General Assembly 2015 hosted by the Norwegian Amateur Club in Oslo on Saturday 7th February, a country which provided Alice Mills with a winning ride at Ovrevoll in June. The AJA are no longer members of Fegentri following our decision to leave the Federation at the end of 2014 which leaves us now ineligible to attend the 2015 GA as dictated by Fegentri rules. We believe that Fegentri cannot serve our best needs whilst current rules restrict representation of amateur riders to just 2 individual jockeys per country, especially considering the large costs incurred. Unfortunately our repeated request for a “Team GB” in order to fully share out race riding opportunities was dismissed, as was our request to become “sleeping members” for 2015 whilst we have grave reservations regarding seemingly idiosyncratic rules currently in place. The AJA CEO Sarah Oliver has therefore resigned from the Fegentri Board. Her Royal Highness Princess Haya of Jordan has also resigned recently as Fegentri’s Patron.
Alice Mills victorious for Great Britain in Norway
A successful 2014 was enjoyed by Alice Mills and Freddy Tett, our 2014 GB representatives, and many congratulations to them both on achieving second place on points won throughout the season, reaching the runner-up slot in both the Lady and Gentleman World Championships respectively. However, as Freddy’s sole win during the season was on home ground (Nottingham), unfortunately due to Fegentri ruling he is not allowed to enjoy this position and is disqualified altogether from the ranking. His Corta Testa (short head) defeat in Rome makes this ruling even more bitterly disappointing.
Freddy Tett beaten ashort head in Italy costing him the “official” Fegentri runner-up slot in the World Championship
Freddy Tett victorious for GB at home in Nottingham
Alice enjoyed winning rides in not only Ovrevoll, Norway but also The Curragh, Ireland as well as both Baden-Baden and Cologne in Germany. Sadly Alice is unable to attend the Gala Dinner in Oslo to collect her prize, with a weekend of rides booked point-to-pointing on home turf, but Freddy is travelling to Norway where he will collect a consolation prize for his achievements.
Alice Mills greeted by an enthusiastic German crowd afterwinning for GB in Baden-Baden
Great Britain have also won the 2014 Fegentri World Cup of Nations Series (and as far as we know there is no ruling to take this victory away from us!). Many congratulations to those jockeys who helped us win this: Steven Fox (Pisa, Italy) (Wayne Hogg non-runner), (Page Fuller (WON in Maisons Laffitte, France, Tom Hamilton unplaced), Freddy Tett (3rd Deauville, France), Megan Nicholls (3rd Royal Windsor) and Harry Bannister (2nd Delaware Park, USA and WON Parx, USA with his horse having its first ever run!)
Page Fuller winning for GB in Maisons-Laffitte – her first ride abroad
Harry Bannister also having his first rides abroad, finishing 2nd and then winning in Parx USA for GB aboard a horse making its debut on the racecourse!