Thu, 02 Jul 2015
DOUBLE Olympic gold medallist Victoria Pendleton will go from riding on two wheels to riding on four legs as she makes her debut as a jockey at Newbury Racecourse today.
Earlier this year Britain's most successful female Olympian announced her intention of swapping saddles with an aim of riding at the 2016 Cheltenham Festival.
After four months of intensive training, she will have the first opportunity to show what she can do when she rides Mighty Mambo in the 5.55pm George Frewer Charity Race over a mile and five furlongs.
The eight-year-old, trained by Oxfordshire-based Lawney Hill, is winner on the Flat and over hurdles.
Lawney Hill said: "Victoria is a true professional. She arrives on time, every day and always looks immaculate.
"There is no diva here - we don't have time for them at Woodway Farm. She is just really enjoying the challenge and nervously excited about the whole thing.
"Thursday at Newbury is going to be a very big step for Victoria. She obviously can't sneak in under the radar because of her public profile and so we have got to make sure everything goes as right as it possibly can.
"She won't be favourite for the horse's reputation, but she will definitely be having a go as she is very competitive. When you have that competitive streak all your life, it never disappears.
"Mighty Mambo is never going to win any races at Royal Ascot, but hopefully he will take care of her and Victoria trusts him, having ridden him out at home."
The Olympain has even has a pre-race meeting with recently-retired legendary jockey AP McCoy.
Mr Hill added: "I saw A P McCoy at Royal Ascot and I spoke to him about Victoria riding out. They both appeared on TV with Clare Balding when A P probably suggested that Victoria probably had more than a mountain to climb.
"I wanted him to come and see her progress and to see how much effort she is putting into it. He came to see us and was very impressed and also gave Victoria some very helpful advice.
"He gave his time for absolutely nothing and it was great for Victoria to have his encouragement.
Pendleton said: "The first time I sat on a race horse and didn't fall off was a relief, 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."