One Eyed Rider Set To Make History At Newbury

One Eyed Rider Set To Make History At Newbury

Guy Mitchell - a racecourse doctor is set to make history when he joins up with the Amanda Perrett-trained Double Legend in the amateur contest at Newbury on Thursday.

The 45-year-old medic is set to be the first person ever to race with one eye in a British horserace, following in the footsteps of Guy Disney, who made the spotlight back in 2017 when becoming the first amputee jockey to win a race in the UK.

This ambition has lasted nearly thirty years for Mitchell, who is the son of former trainer and champion amateur rider Philip [Mitchell], and half-brother to more familiar jockeys Jack and Freddie [Mitchell].

The doctor - who has already taken on three-day eventing and rugby, has lived with this disability the best part of his life.

He and the four-year-old Double Legend (owned by Dean Angell) will be all the focus at the Berkshire venue around 5:30, when they head to post for Division II of the Racing TV Amateur Riders Handicap over ten furlongs.

A regular at Goodwood and at Ascot, Mitchell took time to reflect on the journey he has had.

(Credit: Racing Post) Mitchell said: "I don't see riding in a race as a challenge – getting to this point has been the challenge.

"When I was three my mum discovered an abnormality with the eye. It looked like it was being pushed forward, and it was, because I had a tumour forming in one of the six muscles that control the eye.

"That is incredibly rare. It set off a chain of events that led to me being treated at Barts Hospital by Professor James Malpas, who died only very recently.

"He used combinations of chemotherapy nobody else at the time wanted to try. It wasn't the tumour that destroyed my eye, it was the radiotherapy and chemotherapy, but had he not done that I wouldn't be alive.

"These days kids can be given targeted treatment that doesn't do so much peripheral damage. For me at the time it was a case of do or die."

Mitchell first applied for a jockeys' licence when he was aged 16, but it was turned down by the receiver.

He continued: "I never really got a full explanation. I was just told it wasn't happening, so I gave up, played rugby and put on weight by going to the gym too much.

"I did carry on riding out for Simon Dow, but when I got my first job as a junior doctor in 1998 I pretty much stopped because I was too busy."

The medic has been beneficial riding out for the likes of Dow as well as George Baker, but was full of praise for Amanda Perrett from whom he has been given this remarkable opportunity.

"I don't know why but I decided I was going to have another go. I do some work in racing, so I had met Jerry a few times, and his approach has been much more pragmatic.

"I've had to go through more stringent tests because of my eye but I've passed everything, including all the fitness tests. The only person who beat me on those was aged 17. 

"I'm feeling a mixture of excitement, anxiety and anticipation. I just want to get it right. My dad is very happy, my mum thinks I'm mad and my wife reckons I'm having a mid-life crisis – although the truth is that not being allowed to ride in races has, for me, been a full-life crisis."

Best of luck to Guy Mitchell and Double Legend at Newbury on Thursday!