Victoria Pendleton (right) finishes second with an accomplished ride
VICTORIA PENDLETON delivered a fine riding performance as she finished second in a thrilling first race as an amateur at Ripon.
Britain’s most successful female Olympian showed a change of saddle had not diminished her will to win or her sense of timing as she rode 14-1 shot Royal Etiquette to within a wheel’s width of a famous victory.
Initially towards the rear of the field, Pendleton quickly moved up to the front of the field and was disputing the lead turning for home with the rest far behind.
With three furlongs to go the chasing pack began to close but Pendleton and Royal Etiquette dug into their reserves to stay on stoutly to the end and in a blanket finish she crossed the line second behind 33-1 shot Jordaura, whose rider Tom Greenwood was celebrating his first winner under rules.
“I was just pushing with everything I had,” said Pendleton. “It’s quite difficult because the course is a little bit undulating in those last three furlongs and I felt like I lost my balance a bit on a couple of strides which was frustrating because I couldn’t keep a really good rhythm.
“There’s a lot of things I could have done better but I’m really pleased with how Royal Etiquette, or Harry as he is known, has performed for me today. He’s going to get some Polos!”
Victoria Pendleton and trainer Lawney Hill are all smiles after the race
Pendleton’s ultimate aim is to ride in the Foxhunter Chase at the Cheltenham Festival next March. When she signed up for the challenge six months ago she had never ridden a horse.
He added: “I feel blessed to have the opportunity to ride in a race. Hopefully I’ve done a good job and hopefully I will get a few more rides. It was a good start anyway.
“I don’t know when the next race will be, but riding on the Flat is allowing me to hone my skills.”
Tony McCoy calls Pendleton ride ‘great achievement’
For a novice jockey – or any jockey, for that matter – there could be few votes of confidence more welcome than that of 19-time champion jockey Tony McCoy, who tweeted his approval immediately following the race.
Royal Etiquette’s trainer Lawney Hill, who has been helping Pendleton learn to race ride, was full of praise for her pupil.
“The race didn’t go to plan at all. She really enjoyed it, she was happy and she switched to plan B on her first ride – most people can’t do that after 50 rides,” she said.
“The first thing she said was ‘Sorry I didn’t win’. She is a professional, this is a serious challenge that she is taking on. I am delighted for her today.”
Coral make Pendleton 50-1 to win the Foxhunter Chase at next year’s festival.
var $facebookBlock = $(‘#facebook’);