Victoria Pendleton has hit back at calls to end her horse racing career from former jump jockey champion John Francome.
The Olympic cyclist-turned-jockey, who is a lifetime member of Mildenhall Cycling Club, received criticism after being unseated in her first ride under rules on Pacha Du Polder at Fakenham on Friday.
“I’ve never met her, she seems a lovely girl but she can’t ride and she’s an accident waiting to happen,” Francome said when speaking on At The Races.
The well-respected Channel Four analyst went on to say: “She could have fallen off at any fence. It’s not just about Cheltenham, she could come off on a Sunday afternoon at a point-to-point. She wants stopping before she hurts herself.”
Pendleton, who completed her jockey training in Newmarket last year, was back in action on Sunday at Higham, where she posted a clear round on Minella Theatre to finish last of six finishers in the Ladies Open.
The 35-year-old then responded to the comments from Francome and other professionals who had suggested she was not ready to ride in the Foxhunter at Cheltenham.
“If I’m not ready, I’m not ready,” the two-time Olympic gold medallist told the Racing Post. “Ultimately there are a group of experts behind me and I will trust their judgement 100 per cent and if it’s not meant to be this year then it’s not meant to be.
“It makes no odds if I do it again another time and I’d like to see anyone else give it a go and get this far.
“Whatever happens I’ll continue pointing as I really enjoy it and I even started designing my own silks the other day.
“There are a lot of armchair critics who have never sat on a horse but if you take a sports career you have to expect people to judge you - it’s water off a duck’s back.
“I always go by the one in five rule. That is one in five people will never like you but one in five may love you.”