Victoria Pendleton enjoyed an encouraging first ride as a fully fledged jockey after narrowly missing out on victory in a Novice Flat Amateur Riders’ Handicap race at Rippon on Monday.
The two-time Olympic cycling champion, who less than six months ago announced that with the help of betting company Betfair, would be switching saddles to train to become an amateur jockey, was drawn wide in stall 14 aboard eight-year-old gelding Royal Etiquette.
The Mildenhall Cycling Club gold member started slowly but within a few furlongs had raced to the front alongside Chocolate Diamond.
The excitement grew with just three furlongs to run when Pendleton sent the Lawney Hill-trained Royal Etiquette for home, holding a clear advantage as the chasers started to close.
Bold Henmie was the first to challenge, but Royal Etiquette kept finding extra pace under an excellent ride from Pendleton, and entering the final furlong it became a three horse race as outsider Jordaura mounted a challenge between horses.
But it was the latter who prevailed in the final strides to deny Pendleton a fairytale start to her amateur riding career.
Reflecting on the race, Pendleton beleives she has taken great confidence from her experience as she continue in her quest to fulfil her ambition to ride at the 2016 Cheltenham Festival.
“It was amazing, it was such a thrill, to finish second is beyond what I expected at the start.” she said following the race.
“Everything happened quicker and it was all much more intense than the charity race I rode in at Newbury.
“Since partnering with Betfair on my journey to become an amateur jockey I have worked on all aspects of riding but nothing comes close to that - the experience of riding in a race is almost impossible to replicate.
“Holding my own against the other riders at that speed has boosted my confidence. It makes all the early starts and the hours of training worthwhile and my thanks go to Yogi Breisner and Alan and Lawney Hill, who have all been amazing.
“I’ve experienced a great deal and I’m proud to have got this far but I now want to keep developing in my training so I can be competitive in any race that I ride in en-route to achieving the ambitious goal of competing at the Cheltenham Festival next year.”