One-handed teenager chasing riding dream
The British Racing School in Newmarket has helped foster the ambitions of a young aspiring jockey who was born with only one hand.
Harry, 17, was inspired by the success of amateur rider Guy Disney, who became the first jockey to ride in a race with a prosthetic limb at Sandown in 2015, before going on to land a first victory back at the course two years later in the Royal Artillery Gold Cup aboard Rathlin Rose.
Relaying his dream to his parents, Harry enrolled at the British Racing School and undertook both their nine and 18-week courses, learning the basics of riding and equine care whilst specialists at Dorset Orthopaedic worked on a custom prosthetic.
“When I was younger I was quite into football and it got to the point where I thought I could either continue playing that, work in an office or try to make something of myself,” Harry told Great British Racing.
“I’ve always loved horses and decided I wanted to take that further and get into racing, so I came to the British Racing School.
“There is Guy Disney who rides with a lower limb prosthetic but we weren’t aware of anyone else who rode with a prosthetic arm.
“I started out at the British Racing School doing a nine-week course and then came back for the 18-week course with loads of riding and mucking out.
“Together with the BRS and Steve Cox and the team at Dorset Orthopaedic we have created a prosthetic which allows me to safely ride racehorses.
“The prosthetic is made of silicon which slides onto my arm and there is a magnet at the end which attaches to the reins.
“A power circuit keeps it in place and if I fall off the circuit is broken, releasing the magnet so that I don’t get caught up in the reins and dragged along.”
Safety was a priority in the development of the prosthetic, with any device that tethered Harry too firmly to the reins posing a huge risk should he part company with his mount.
“We’ve been working with Harry to create a prosthetic which has allowed him to ride racehorses so that not only has he been safe, but all the other horses and riders with him have been safe as well,” said Andrew Braithwaite, financial director at British Racing School.
“The key was to find a solution that didn’t require the horses to adapt to the way Harry was riding.
“Thanks to Harry’s determination and natural ability this has been achieved, it has been great to see him successfully complete the course and go on to full time employment.”
After graduating from his course, Harry took up a role with trainer Lawney Hill, who said: “Harry is hard-working, cheeky and dedicated and he’s determined not to let anything get in his way.
“We are so impressed with his riding ability and his manner with the horses and he has been a brilliant addition to our team since he has joined us.”
Riding competitively remains Harry’s goal and he now intends to learn all he can from his workplace and continue striving towards that aim.
“Everyone has their bigger goal of where they want to be, the biggest goal for me is probably trying to be a jockey,” he said.
“For now, I’m just taking it step by step. My next goal was to get into the workplace and I’ve achieved that and now it’s just continuing to move forwards towards my dreams.”
Harry’s dream is one that has the full support of his parents, with his mother Michelle saying: “We are extremely proud of Harry.
“Behind all of this for him is to inspire others like him to never give up on your dreams, to really put yourself out there and keep trying.
“We’re in the 21st century and he wants to show that anything is possible.
“We are so proud of him with his determination to fight for the dream that he wants.”
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