Victoria Pendleton finished fifth in the Foxhunter Chase at Cheltenham
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
By James Burn 4.30PM 20 JUL 2016
VICTORIA PENDLETON, one of Great Britain’s most successful female Olympians who will soon head to Rio to cover the 2016 games for the BBC, has the chance to sign off with a winner when she rides Royal Etiquette in the Visit Newbury Amateur Riders’ Handicap (5.35) at the Berkshire track on Thursday evening.
The nine-year-old was Pendleton’s first ride under rules and came within a head of giving the double Olympic sprint cycling champion a dream start to her new sporting passion when second at Ripon in August.
Since then the 35-year-old Pendleton, who won gold at Beijing in 2008 and at London four years later, landed a hunter chase at Wincanton on Pacha Du Polder before steering the same horse to finish fifth at the Cheltenham Festival.
She also won a charity race at Newmarket in June on Royal Etiquette, whose trainer Lawney Hill and her husband Alan have been major influences in helping Pendleton swap two wheels for four legs.
“Happiest I’ve ever been in my life”
Lawney Hill said on Wednesday: “Victoria still rides most days and, apart from a brief holiday in LA after Cheltenham, she’s been here at least four times a week.
“She absolutely loves it. The other morning we were coming back from the gallops and it was warm and sunny and she said, ‘This is the happiest I’ve ever been in my life’.”
Of Royal Etiquette’s chance, Hill added: “He’s well, but he’s always well. It’s just how he decides to run on the day as he’s a bit of a character. He won a charity race at Newmarket under Victoria the other day and she’s ridden him quite a bit now. She knows what he’s like and he isn’t the fastest, but gives her a fun ride each time.”
Pendleton had her first racecourse gallop and ride at Newbury and the track’s head of communications Andy Clifton said yesterday: “We’re delighted to see her continuing her riding career here. I know people have different views, but nobody can argue with what she’s done and the way she’s done it has given some positive publicity to horseracing.”