Victoria Pendleton to make her amateur jockey debut at Newbury Racecourse

Double Olympic gold medalist Victoria Pendleton will make her debut as an amateur jockey in a charity race at Newbury Racecourse in July.

The former cyclist, who is Britain's most decorated female Olympian, will line up as part of a field of 12 riders on Thursday, July 2, to compete in the George Frewer Charity Race atNewbury.

In March, Pendleton announced she was training to become an amateur jockey and is aiming to race in the Foxhunter Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in 2016.

The 34-year-old said: "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.

 

"The first time I sat on a race horse 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. 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."

Since swapping her cycling shoes for stirrups, Pendleton has completed four months of intensive training at Lawney Hill's yard in Oxfordshire and a decision will be made on which horse she will ride on her debut within the next fortnight.

 After her debut, she plans to undergo a Catergory A Amateur licence course at the British Racing School, which she will need to compete at the Cheltenham Festival.

Pendleton added: "The last 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 focused on continuing my preparations for Newbury and I just can't wait to line up there in four week's time."

Yogi Breisner, who taught Pendleton the basics of horse riding and is the performance manager of eventing for Team GB, said: "We decided 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."

Andy Clifton, head of communications at Newbury Racecourse, said: "I am sure Victoria's racing debut will create plenty of interest and we look forward to seeing one of the country's most remarkable sportswomen in action here at Newbury."

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