By Simon Jackson.
Olympic gold medallist Victoria Pendleton makes her debut as an amateur jockey at Newbury today where she rides Mighty Mambo in the George Frewer Charity Race.
The double gold cycling champion has her first ride in public in the one mile and five furlong contest at 5.55pm that has attracted a field of 11 runners.
The 34-year-old has been riding out regularly for Mighty Mambo’s trainer Lawney Hill and has said her goal is to ride at the Cheltenham Festival. Pendleton is 25-1 with Paddy Power to win at the 2016 Cheltenham Festival.
“Victoria has been riding out here since mid-April. She usually rides out two lots, although she would do more if she could,” Lawney Hill said.
“Victoria has a lot of other business commitments and is a very busy person but is absolutely loving it. The one thing she said to us is that she is really enjoying learning something new at this stage in her life. The cycling was something that was always in her family but the riding has really been something just for her.
“I saw A P McCoy at Royal Ascot and I spoke to him about Victoria riding out. I wanted him to come and see her progress and to see how much effort she is putting into it.
“He came to see us and was very impressed and also gave Victoria some very helpful advice. He gave his time for absolutely nothing and it was great for Victoria to have his encouragement.
“It is all very well Alan [Hill’s husband] and I saying she is doing well, but when she gets positive comments from the likes of A P McCoy and [team GBR equestrian coach] Yogi Breisner, it is a boost for her confidence.”
The 10 other riders taking part in the George Frewer Charity Race include another dual Olympic medal winner in Mark Todd, who took gold in individual eventing at the 1984 and 1988 games. The other riders are Mike Felton, Charlotte Plunkett, Amanda Clegg, Thomas Benyon, Charlotte Pownall,Bobby Hall, Maisie Turner, Jacob Jelfs and Chris King.
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