Gold medal-winning Olympic cyclist Victoria Pendleton has taken up riding, with the aim of securing an amateur jockeys licence.
Victoria, who first sat on a horse just a week ago, has been receiving coaching from event rider Chris King, the British eventing team’s chef d’equipe Yogi Breisner and champion National Hunt trainer Paul Nicholls.
If she succeeds, the plan is for her to ride in the Foxhunter Chase at the Cheltenham Festival next year.
“Having worked with her for a week, the progress she has already made in such a small amount of time is quite frankly remarkable. It’s a real privilege to work with Victoria on a challenge of this magnitude.”
Victoria said she had been looking for a “new and exciting challenge”.
“I’m motivated by the scale of the challenge and the opportunity to combine my love of horses with learning a new skill,” she added.
“The initial focus will be on getting me to a level whereby I am granted an amateur jockey licence, which is a significant challenge in itself given that I had never even sat on a horse until a week ago.”
Over the next 12 months she’ll work towards obtaining a Category A amateur licence — which will involve her riding in point-to-points with the aim of taking part in the Foxhunter in 2016.
The challenge has been set up by Betfair, to provide an “unexpected and entertaining perspective on horseracing, while also profiling the skills, athleticism and courage faced by jockeys every day”.
“While no one under estimates the scale of the challenge ahead, Victoria’s undoubted mental and physical strength, coupled with the team Betfair have put together to help her with this challenge, means we are in a fantastic position for Victoria to achieve the ambitious goal of riding at Cheltenham Festival in 2016,” added Yogi.
“Victoria is an outstanding athlete with a real drive and determination, so while this is an incredibly difficult challenge, these attributes are exactly what you need to become a jockey,” he said.
“Having the competitive mind set of an Olympic champion, I’ve no doubt will put her in a great place to succeed in this challenge whilst also shining a much deserved light on the sport.”