Pendleton handed major boost in Cheltenham quest

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Victoria Pendleton’s aspirations of riding in this year’s Cheltenahm Festival have been boosted after leading racehorse owner, Andy Stewart made Pacha Du Polder, runner up in the 2015 Aintree Foxhunters, available to the former Olympic gold medallist.

The Mildenhall Cycling Club gold member, who is undergoing an ambitious ‘switching saddles’ challenge with the help of Betfair, has now ridden in four point-to-points meetings, getting round for the first time on Sunday when finishing fourth on Supreme Danehill at Black Forest Lodge.

And her endeavours have now been rewarded further with permission to ride the nine-year old gelding, trained by Chloe Roddick in Somerset, who has already qualified for the Foxhunters Chase, and has now been added to Pendleton’s roster of rides for the current point-to-point season.

“I’m delighted that Andy Stewart has kindly made Pacha Du Polder available for Point-to-Points and potentially Cheltenham,” said Pendleton.

“It’s great that an owner of Andy’s stature is putting his faith in me to ride one of his horses.”

On his decision, Stewart said:“The Stewart Family are delighted that Victoria will be riding Pacha Du Polder for us in point-to-points, and who knows maybe even at Cheltenham.

“It was thrilling at Aintree as he looked the winner until Nina Carberry joined him at the last and JP’s On The Fringe beat us, so this year it might be a women’s race, we are very excited about the coming months.”

Pendleton will now work closely with Roddick, while continuing her regular visits to trainer Alan Hill.

The former Olympian’s quest to gain race riding experience is set to continue this weekend with Hill planning entries.

“Victoria continues to make great progress and Black Forest was another step forward for her,” said Hill.

“This stage of the challenge is beginning to build important momentum and we are keen to continue giving Victoria as much experience of riding in point-to-points as possible.

“It’s important to let people with suitable horses know that they can contact me with a view to Victoria riding them in point-to-points.”