Pendleton in chase for glory
VICTORIA PENDLETON has given herself the green light to ride over fences at the Cheltenham Festival despite admitting there are signifi cant risks involved.
The two- time Olympic cycling gold medallist will ride in the Foxhunter Chase – the ‘ amateurs’ Gold Cup’ – over three and a quarter miles of the fearsome Prestbury Park circuit next Friday.
She will do so in front of a near- 70,000 sellout Gold Cup crowd on 16- 1 chance Pacha Du Polder, just over a year after sitting on a horse for the fi rst time.
“It has been by no means an easy decision to make and I have spent a lot of time thinking how I would handle this wonderful opportunity,” she said yesterday. “There are a lot
of risks but I feel I am capable of being part of the race.
“This whole journey has been a remarkable experience. It has been physically demanding, I’ve had to dig deep but I never wanted to give up.”
Pendleton, who won gold medals in the velodrome at both the Beijing and London Olympics in 2008 and 2012, said: “There will be a phenomenal crowd at Cheltenham and I am so excited.
“If I just get round on the horse and complete the course, I’ll feel like that’s a gold medal.”
Pendleton has been sponsored by bookmaker Betfair and has had guidance from leading figures in the sport including the horse’s trainer Paul Nicholls, above.
Pendleton, 35, and Pacha Du Polder registered their fi rst win together last Wednesday in a hunter chase at Wincanton.
Nicholls said: “Wincanton was a big day and it went well. Victoria’s improvement month to month has been fantastic and she’s well ready for the challenge.”
Bookmakers Coral offer 16- 1 she adds the Foxhunter trophy to that Wincanton win, going 8- 1 she finishes in the first three and 6- 4 that the pair complete the course.