Golden girl Victoria Pendleton to make horse racing debut at Newbury
Olympic gold medalist switches saddles
OLYMPIC gold medalist Victoria Pendleton will switch from two wheels to four legs and will take her first bow as an amateur jockey at Newbury Racecourse next month.
The double golden girl of the 2012 London Olympiad recently stated that her new sporting ambition is to ride at the Cheltenham Festival in 2016 and she is in the midst of an intensive four-month training course to become a jockey.
Now her first race has been confirmed and it will be at Newbury on July 2 when she rides in the George Frewer Charity Race as part of the course’s Key4Life Charity Race Evening.
She has been riding out at Lawney Hill’s stables in Oxfordshire and has been training with a number of experts, and Team GB eventing performance director Yogi Breisner said: “We decided that the charity flat race at Newbury was the best event for Victoria to get her first experience of race-riding for a number of reasons.
“The timing provided a challenging yet realistic target to aim for and the race is run at a distance of one and a half miles which is long enough to provide Victoria with an opportunity to take-in and learn from the unique experience of riding in a race.
“It's a key milestone if we are to hit our target of Victoria successfully obtaining her Category A licence with a view to riding at Cheltenham next year.”
She will ride in a 12-strong field in a race that is sure to attract massive media interest for a Thursday evening event.
“The first time I sat on a race horse and didn't fall off was a relief, “ she said. “The first time cantered on the gallops was exhilarating and the first time I jumped in the riding school and schooled over brush fences were hugely satisfying and exciting steps for me.
“And of course starting to ride out with other jockeys at Lawney Hill's yard was a really proud moment, and gave me a feeling of belonging. Although I have to say taking part in this Charity race, back in a competitive environment, will probably top my other experiences on this journey to date.
“The last few months haven't all been plain sailing though,” she admitted, “and I'd be fibbing if I said I haven't fallen off a few times along the way.
“But right now I'm just focussed on continuing my preparations for Newbury and I just can't wait to line up there in four weeks' time.”
Her mount has yet to be decided.