Newbury Races: medic Mitchell becomes first person with one eye to ride in British horse race
Racecourse doctor Guy Mitchell will make sporting history at Newbury Racecourse on Thursday (July 25) when he becomes the first person with one eye to ride in a horse race in Britain - fulfilling a lifelong ambition.
Mitchell, 45, a GP from Lodsworth, West Sussex, is set to ride the Amanda Perrett-trained Double Legend in division two of the RacingTV Amateur Riders’ Handicap at 5.30, having come through a rigorous assessment programme.
He lost his right eye aged three. Born into a racing family in Epsom, the son of trainer Philip Mitchell, who was also a champion amateur jockey, Guy Mitchell learned to ride from a very young age.
But his previous attempts nearly 30 years ago to secure an amateur riders’ permit had been repeatedly turned down by the regulator: “I lost my eye at a young age due to a tumour behind the eye. The treatment of that resulted in damage behind the eye which meant it had to be taken away."
"The fact of the matter is I am lucky to be alive. I started riding out at the age of eight and I continued doing that for my Dad, Simon Dow and people like Brooke Sanders back then and now I ride out for Amanda Perrett, George Baker and Simon."
“I think I applied for an amateur’s licence two or three times, from the age of 16, but once I started working I didn’t have the time. I had pretty much given up because they had said no two or three times already."
“It’s a fire that has never really been put out and Dr Jerry Hill [BHA chief medical advisor] gave me the opportunity to go through a different series of assessments and I have been successful.”
Mitchell had to be examined by a Harley Street specialist as well as undergo riding assessments at the British Racing School before he could take part in the amateur riders’ course.
Double Legend, a winner at Kempton earlier this year, is set to meet eight rivals in the 1m2f handicap in which Mitchell, who gets a 7lb allowance, will have to weigh out at 9st 12lb: “I am going to have to work hard to get down to that. I’ve got myself to 9st 9lb at the weekend just by cycling on an indoor bike with a bin liner on."
"That’s probably enough when you throw in the allowance for the body protector. I don’t want to put up overweight."
“For me this is massive. I am kind of excited and anxious at the same time. I just want to get round and enjoy it. For the first ride it’s the taking part and then getting around safely. I’ve missed 30 years.”
The RacingTV Amateur Riders’ Handicap is the first of eight races on Thursday’s card which also marks the finale of Newbury’s series of#GinThursday evening meetings.
Tickets are available to buy on the gates from £18. To book visit www.newburyracecourse.co.uk