Pendleton handed major boost in her quest to race at Cheltenham Festival

MAJOR BOOST: Victoria Pendleton, pictured in point-to-point action, has been given permission to ride leading contender Pacha Du Polder by renowned owner Andy Stewart in her quest to ride at the Cheltenham Festival
MAJOR BOOST: Victoria Pendleton, pictured in point-to-point action, has been given permission to ride leading contender Pacha Du Polder by renowned owner Andy Stewart in her quest to ride at the Cheltenham Festival

Victoria Pendleton’s hopes of riding in this year’s Cheltenham Festival have been boosted after being given a leading contender by renowned racehorse owner, Andy Stewart.

The Mildenhall Cycling Club gold member, who is undergoing an ambitious ‘switching saddles’ challenge with the help of betting company Betfair, has seen her chances of making a telling impact increased with leading owner, Stewart, making Pacha Du Polder, runner up in the 2015 Aintree Foxhunters, available to the former Olympic cycling gold medallist.

The 35-year-old, 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 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 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 to allow Pendleton to ride Pacha Du Polder, Stewart added: “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 to see her entered in further races.

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

“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 they can contact me with a view to Victoria riding them in point-to-points.”