Olympic cyclist Victoria Pendleton, who is aiming on securing an amateur jockeys licence, is to tackle her first race next month.
The double Olympic gold medallist is to ride in a charity race at Newbury on 2 July. The race will held over 1m5f and Victoria will be up against 11 other riders.
Victoria started training to be a jockey earlier this year, after being approached by bookmakers Betfair. The aim is for her to ride in the Cheltenham Foxhunter next year.
She’s been having intense training over the past four months with British Eventing chef d’equipe Yogi Breisner, as well as eventers Chris King and Izzy Taylor.
“When I partnered with Betfair to switch saddles and become an amateur jockey, I knew it’d be one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced but I’ve already enjoyed so many exciting experiences,” she said.
“The first time I sat on a racehorse and didn’t fall off was a relief, the first time I 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.
“The past few months haven’t all been plain sailing though, getting initially used to and then learning to jump in a racing saddle was very different and challenging, 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.”
Yogi added: “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 of Newbury’s charity event 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.”
Don’t miss H&H’s exclusive interview with Victoria, in next week’s issue of H&H — out Thursday 18 June.