Positive press reaction to Victoria Pendleton’s ride in Friday’s Foxhunter Chase at the Cheltenham Festival completed a fantastic finale to the former World and Olympic champion cyclist’s ‘Switching Saddles’ challenge.
Pendleton, Britain’s most successful female Olympian, finished fifth in the Foxhunter Chase, the ‘Amateurs’ Gold Cup’, drawing praise from a wide section of racing professionals, including champion Jumps trainer Paul Nicholls and racehorse owner Andy Stewart, whose horse, Pacha Du Polder, was her mount in the race.
It was a remarkable effort by Pendleton, 35, who took up riding little more than a year ago, but she was only able to prove her readiness for Cheltenham through riding in Point-to-Point races. She began on the opening day of the season in late November with a ride at Black Forest Lodge in Devon, and subsequently took part in another 14 such races, plus two hunters’ chases, gaining invaluable experience.
At a press conference after Friday’s race, Pendleton expressed her desire to continue riding in Point-to-Points now the Betfair-sponsored Switching Saddles challenge has ended, and she is expected to be in action at Kimble, in Buckinghamshire, on Easter Saturday.
From keen amateurs to future professionals – Richard Johnson, on his way to becoming champion Jump jockey, started in the sport – Point-to-Pointing is open to all, be it as owners, trainers, riders, volunteer helpers or spectators. Tens of thousands of people will flock to meetings around the British Isles this Easter weekend, and entry is typically just £10 a head for adults, children under 16 get in free.
Anyone who would like to get involved as the owner of a Point-to-Pointer can gain an introduction for an affordable sum through joining a syndicate.
Full details of Point-to-Point meetings in your area throughout the season – which runs from the end of November until the middle of June – can be found at the sport’s national website www.pointtopoint.co.uk.
Further information from the Point-to-Point Authority: 01793 781990 [email protected]