Victoria Pendleton has completed her transformation from Olympic champion cyclist to National Hunt winner with her first victory as an amateur rider at Wincanton.
The dual Olympic gold medal winner raced home on 5-4 favourite Pacha Du Polder on Wednesday just 12 days after being unseated by the same horse on her debut at Fakenham,
A decision on whether she will partner the horse in the St James’s Place Foxhunter Chase on the final day of the Cheltenham Festival will be made on Monday by trainer Paul Nicholls.
Pendleton has been riding for the past 12 months with the aim of getting to Cheltenham.
“I really wanted to get round to do my horse justice and for my team of Paul Nicholls, Alan and Lawney Hill and Yogi Breisner,” Pendleton said.
“I wanted to do them justice as they have put so much work and effort into supporting me.
“I was very frustrated (after Fakenham) but also I know that this sport is full of thrills and spills. That can happen, it’s racing.
“When I started this challenge, people said, ‘You know you’re going to fall off, don’t you?’ and I said, ‘Yes, I know’, but it’s a very small price to pay for the joy you get in riding a thoroughbred racehorse.”
“I’ve had the most wonderful year learning how to ride and school horses. Just the joy of galloping racehorses has hit me hard and gone right in.
“With a racehorse, the partnership is something that is so special. If someone would have told me this last year I wouldn’t have believed them. It’s been life changing.”
Nicholls indicated things were in Pendleton’s favour.
“There is nothing to say she shouldn’t line up and on today’s performance she is more than qualified in my book to ride,” he said.