Olympic champion Victoria Pendleton poised for Ripon riding debut

Victoria Pendleton walks out prior to the start of The George Frewer Celebration Sweepstake sponsored by the Bernard Sunley Foundation race at Newbury Racecourse, Newbury. ( Nick Potts/PA Wire).

Victoria Pendleton walks out prior to the start of The George Frewer Celebration Sweepstake sponsored by the Bernard Sunley Foundation race at Newbury Racecourse, Newbury. ( Nick Potts/PA Wire).

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Olympic gold medallist Victoria Pendleton is set to take the next step of her horse racing career at Ripon on Monday in her first ride as an amateur jockey.

The former cyclist hopes to partner eight-year-old Royal Etiquette, trained by Lawney Hill, in the Betfair Novice Flat Amateur Riders’ Handicap over an extended mile and a quarter at the North Yorkshire track’s Bank Holiday meeting.

Mighty Mambo ridden by Victoria Pendleton during The George Frewer Celebration Sweepstake sponsored by the Bernard Sunley Foundation race at Newbury Racecourse, Newbury. (Nick Potts/PA Wire)

Mighty Mambo ridden by Victoria Pendleton during The George Frewer Celebration Sweepstake sponsored by the Bernard Sunley Foundation race at Newbury Racecourse, Newbury. (Nick Potts/PA Wire)

Pendleton announced in March she was training to become a jockey, with a long-term aim of competing in the Foxhunter Chase at next year’s Cheltenham Festival.

Ripon’s managing director and clerk of the course James Hutchinson hoped Pendleton’s appearance would boost visiting figures for the Bank Holiday meeting

“It’s very exciting,” he said.

“It’s not very often someone can change from one sport to another and we’re delighted to hear she’s coming to Ripon to ride,

“It will put extra publicity on the meeting and may add some to the crowd.

“We are very supportive of what she’s doing.”

Pendleton retired from cycling after storming to the gold medal in cycling’s sprint event at London 2012.

She had her first experience in public in a charity race at Newbury in early July when finishing eighth on the Hill-trained Mighty Mambo.

She has undergone several months of intensive training under a team of experts recruited by Betfair and has been riding out regularly for Hill at her Oxfordshire stables.

Hill said: “She’s hoping to ride Royal Etiquette on Monday. She’s done the two-day course at the British Racing School to get the Flat and jumps licence,” said Hill.

“She’s hoping to get that and then go up to Ripon on Monday and see how we get on.

“It’s a race for novice amateurs who have ridden less than three winners, so she will be against other novice riders.

“That’s why it was chosen for her and also it’s a Betfair-sponsored race and they are sponsoring her.

“I see no problem why she won’t get the licence, unless there’s a technical problem I’m not aware of.”