Pendleton boosts Cheltenham chances with maiden win


Victoria Pendleton boosted her chances of racing at the Cheltenham Festival with her first victory as an amateur jockey at Wincanton on Wednesday.

The former Olympic cyclist came in for criticism from certain quarters after being unseated on her National Hunt debut aboard Pacha du Polder 12 days ago.

However, trainer Paul Nicholls saw his faith in Pendleton rewarded as she guided the same horse to victory on this occasion.

Having made a good start the 35-year-old pulled away from the field and crossed the line 29 lengths clear of her nearest rival.

"I said 'jump him out sharp and be positive' and that's what she did, she rode really well," Nicholls told Racing UK.

"She's getting better all the time and she really enjoys it. People that say negative things about it should give her a chance and get behind her. She loves it and it's great for the sport.

"Everyone keeps asking about Cheltenham but we're not going to make a quick decision, I think we've got a meeting on Monday or Tuesday, so we'll make a decision then."

Pendleton was delighted to have claimed her maiden win, and reiterated her desire to continue her career as a jockey

She said: "It's fantastic. I really wanted to get around on the horse and Pacha Du Polder is such a lovely horse, it's an honour to ride such a lovely animal.

"It was very frustrating last time but this sport has lots of thrills and spills and days like last time are just racing. I feel very honoured to do this.

"I'll see what the experts say [about Cheltenham] and go with it. But I'll be riding in point to points this weekend and I'm not going anywhere whatever happens."