What better way to spend a Friday than a day at the races! Yet again it was the Grand Military Event at which Team Army / Team Ethos assembled nearly 150 sponsors and guests to lap up the ambiance and setting at Sandown Park and enjoy the spectacle. It was certainly a treat with company, hospitality and occasion all adding up to make it a superb day —- even if the bookies got the better of many of us!
Sandown Park first hosted the Grand Military Event in 1878. The Great War halted virtually all racing activities across the country and the 1914 Royal Artillery Meeting was the last for six years with its revival not until 1920. Following again its demise during WW2, it was not until 1949 when the Royal Artillery Gold Cup ran again but it proved a struggle in the post-war rationing years. Opening the event up to officers past and present, cadets and TA gave it the interest and entry with the model event now open to all the Armed Services.
Filling the suite overlooking the course the assembled throng were hugely entertained by Lt Col (Retd) Simon Ledger, a leading light in all thing equine throughout his serving career and still very much at the forefront of Forces Polo. the anecdotes flowed and we were even treated to guests giving their take on horses and racing including none other than Capt Guy Disney who recently made history to win an event as the first to compete and win with a prosthetic leg. Riding Rathlin Rose, Guy cemented this victory by winning the principal race; the Grand Military Gold Cup, romping home on the 7-4 favourite to a 12 length win from Renard. Disney, who lost his leg serving in Afghanistan, won on the same David Pipe trained horse when he put himself into the history books with that first win and made the headlines.
With the royal family represented by HRH The Princess Royal it was for Andrew McMoran, one of the Team Army Sports Foundation trustees to join her along with wife Katie to present the prize for the Team Army sponsored Handicap Hurdle Race race.
So a great day had by all at an event that provides for a memorable occasion with the courage and skill of the riders, the entertainment, hospitality snd company and of course all within the setting of Sandown and a ‘Day at the Races’. Book your places now for 2018!
The charity makes a donation to the Grand Military Committee that in turn provides the much needed funding to help other aspiring jockeys to reach the levels to compete.