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Victoria Pendleton takes fifth place on Cheltenham debut

Olympic champ says today's ride "one of the greatest achievements of my life"...

Victoria Pendleton says that finishing a very creditable fifth on her Cheltenham Festival debut is one of the "greatest achievements" of her life - and on a day when the favourite, Don Cossack, won the Gold Cup, the bookmakers will be relieved that her mount Pacha du Polder didn't quite get into the places to land punters an each-way bet.

When track cycling star Pendleton teamed up with Betfair for the Switching Saddles initiative this time last year, the goal of riding the Foxhunter Chase at Cheltenham on the biggest day of the National Hunt season seemed a distant dream.

There were plenty of doom-mongers along the way, too, including former champion jockey turned TV pundit John Francombe, who warned just last month that the two-time Olympic gold medallist  was "an accident waiting to happen" over the jumps.

Pendleton, 35, proved her critics wrong today, however. In front of a packed and enthusiastic crowd, she started at the back of the field but slowly worked her way up.

Coming over the last of the 22 fences of the 3m 2 ½ furlong race, run over the same course and distance as the Gold Cup itself, Pacha Du Polder was going very strongly, and picked off rivals one by one on the run-in to the line.

Another few yards and Pendleton would almost certainly have secured a top-four place - and perhaps even the unlikeliest of victories - but afterwards she was among the first to congratulate the winner, Nina Carberry, who rode the strong favourite, On The Fringe.

Twice an OIympic champion and with nine world titles in the velodrome, Pendleton said that today's experience was comparable to the most memorable moments of her cycling career.

“It’s right up there with everything I’ve ever done, it’s such a rush," she said. "Thank you to all the jockeys that have been involved today, they’ve all been so nice and I feel really lucky.

“I think it’s one of the greatest achievements of my life, a special achievement.”

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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17 comments

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antonio | 8 years ago
0 likes

Not a fan of horse racing but watched this out of real interest in Vickie's new venture. The similarities with crafty Keirin tactics was there to see, a smaller field would definitely have seen a higher finish for the Olympic hero, well deserved accolades. 

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HarrogateSpa | 8 years ago
1 like

How's Chris Hoys driving going?

Do you mean Chris Hoy the children's author?

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HarrogateSpa | 8 years ago
0 likes

I think in terms of an intelligent strategy to stop articles of this nature appearing in future, I'd recommend not clicking on them.

Don't worry, I didn't come here to read the article, I was simply on the thread to corect your misinterpretation of PhilipA's comment  3

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fustuarium | 8 years ago
1 like

How's Chris Hoys driving going?

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Danger Dicko replied to fustuarium | 8 years ago
1 like

fustuarium wrote:

How's Chris Hoys driving going?

 

He should be racing at Le Mans later this year. An awesome achievement for him.

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gnarlyrider | 8 years ago
1 like

Some sad comments on here bemoaning non cycling specific news.  I for one as a long term cyclist was more than delighted to hear of her success in particular to see that one of "us" can succeed in another challenge and to see Victoria's  delight.  

Not all cyling news has to involve two wheels it can just involve a cyclist and anyone who attempts to deny that Victoria is a cyclist should do some background reading. 

Say it again and say it loud - well done Victoria.

 

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HarrogateSpa | 8 years ago
3 likes

Yes, they do. Even the non-horse racing sites cover her, such as bbc, the guardian, the daily mail etc. 

This rather misses the point which PhilipA made. 

It seems that celebrity trumps everything else. I think Pendleton was a great bike rider, but I have no interest in reading about her riding horses, on a cycling website.

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Veloism replied to HarrogateSpa | 8 years ago
1 like

HarrogateSpa wrote:

Yes, they do. Even the non-horse racing sites cover her, such as bbc, the guardian, the daily mail etc. 

This rather misses the point which PhilipA made. 

It seems that celebrity trumps everything else. I think Pendleton was a great bike rider, but I have no interest in reading about her riding horses, on a cycling website.

As a regular road.cc user, you should be used to anything even remotely linked to cycling, no matter how trivial being reported...

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Kadinkski replied to HarrogateSpa | 8 years ago
0 likes

HarrogateSpa wrote:

Yes, they do. Even the non-horse racing sites cover her, such as bbc, the guardian, the daily mail etc. 

This rather misses the point which PhilipA made. 

It seems that celebrity trumps everything else. I think Pendleton was a great bike rider, but I have no interest in reading about her riding horses, on a cycling website.

Yes, you're right. Celebrity is probably the main attraction with those other sites. And here. But she is a cycling celebrity so fair enough I say. 

I think in terms of an intelligent strategy to stop articles of this nature appearing in future, I'd recommend not clicking on them.

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PhilipA | 8 years ago
4 likes

Do you think the horse racing sites cover when she rides her bike???

Not sure how this is a cycling related story.  There are plentry of other retired cyclists do things which are probably far more interesting and also cycling related.

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Kadinkski replied to PhilipA | 8 years ago
0 likes

PhilipA wrote:

Do you think the horse racing sites cover when she rides her bike???

 

Yes, they do. Even the non-horse racing sites cover her, such as bbc, the guardian, the daily mail etc.

 

 

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DaveE128 | 8 years ago
0 likes

Oh, that was very convenient for the bookmakers.

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mike the bike replied to DaveE128 | 8 years ago
0 likes

DaveE128 wrote:

Oh, that was very convenient for the bookmakers.

 

Particularly the bookmaker who has reportedly funded Vicky's efforts to the tune of £200k.

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Yorky-M | 8 years ago
0 likes

unreal, mastering two sports at elite level. some girl

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KiwiMike | 8 years ago
1 like

My rather horse-mad daughter says horses are better than bikes 'cos not sexist, 'cos VP wasn't allowed to race in the Tour against the guys.

I clearly have work to do.

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cdamian replied to KiwiMike | 8 years ago
0 likes

KiwiMike wrote:

My rather horse-mad daughter says horses are better than bikes 'cos not sexist, 'cos VP wasn't allowed to race in the Tour against the guys.

She is not wrong about that

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BearstedCC | 8 years ago
1 like

Chapeau...

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