Olympic cycling champion Victoria Pendleton is due to have her second competitive ride as a jockey at Beverley next Tuesday (September 22).
Pendleton, 34, will once again partner the Lawney Hill-trained Royal Etiquette in the Betfair Supports Amateur Riders’ Handicap, due off at 5pm, at the popular East Yorkshire circuit. The former track cyclist made her debut as an amateur jockey aboard Royal Etiquette at Ripon on August 31 when the eight-year-old gelding, owned by Hill’s husband, Alan, finished a head second behind 33-1 chance Jordaura.
Alan and Lawney Hill have worked closely with Pendleton since the double Olympian said in March she wanted to become a jockey, with a long-term goal to compete in the Foxhunter Chase for amateur riders at the 2016 Cheltenham Festival.
Her ‘Switching Saddles’ adventure is in partnership with Betfair. The online bookmakers have provided the fledgling jockey with a team of specialists including Team GB eventing performance manager Yogi Breisner. You can watch the whole story here.
Pendleton had her first raceday experience in the George Frewer Charity Race at Newbury on July 2, when she finished eighth aboard the Hill-trained Mighty Mambo. Britain’s most successful female Olympian then gained clearance to ride competitively at Ripon after she was awarded a Category A amateur riders’ licence on August 26 following a two-day assessment at the British Racing School in Newmarket.
Pendleton said: “The ‘Switching Saddles’ challenge to date has been incredibly exciting. I’ve been working hard with Betfair and the team for just under seven months, when I started I couldn’t ride a horse and now I have ridden in a charity race, achieved my category A licence and finished second in my amateur debut at Ripon in the Betfair Amateur Series.
“There is something special about riding in a race, the energy from the crowd really hits you as you enter the home straight and you can feel yourself and the horse reacting to that. All the early mornings and hours of training are worth it for that feeling alone.
“Needless to say, I’m really looking forward to riding at Beverley in the Betfair Supports Amateur Riders’ Handicap and experiencing that feeling again, but more importantly these races really give me a chance to test myself against other amateur jockeys in preparation for Cheltenham in March and I hope that I can put another good performance in on the 22nd.”
Beverley Chief Executive Sally Iggulden said: “We have always been strong supporters of amateur jockeys at Beverley, and, indeed, Yorkshire is home to some of the very best who have learnt their trade on the Westwood. We are delighted that Betfair and Victoria Pendleton have put Beverley on their path towards Cheltenham in March.
"Victoria will be taking on fully-fledged amateur jockeys for the first time at Beverley, and will be sharing the changing rooms with leading lights such as Serena Brotherton and Joanna Mason, who are battling it out for the title. Can Victoria cause an upset? Who knows, but I am sure that conquering the unique challenge of the Westwood track will stand her in good stead for the future.”
Betfair Head of Media Stephen Mault said: “Victoria’s second-place finish in her amateur debut in the Betfair Amateur Series’ race at Ripon was an amazing achievement and her dedication to the ‘Switching Saddles’ challenge remains exemplary. This race at Beverley provides Victoria with another chance to put her developing skills to the test against other amateur jockeys which is what her team of experts have recommended.
“It is great to see Victoria riding on Royal Etiquette again. They put in a great performance at Ripon and hopefully they can have a strong run again at Beverley. Irrelevant of the result, it still remains true that the fact Victoria has achieved her Category A licence at such an early stage is an incredible accomplishment. Everyone involved with this challenge is extremely proud of Victoria’s triumphs and we look forward continuing to support her and the ‘Switching Saddles’ campaign, which aims to shine a light on the sport of horseracing.”
Beverley’s seven-race fixture next Tuesday is due to begin at 2pm. The feature race on the card is the five-furlong British Stallion Studs Eddie And Violet Smith EBF Conditions Stakes (3.00), claimed last year by Group One-winning sprinter Kingsgate Native.