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VICTORIA PENDLETON'S HORSES ENTERED AT COTTENHAM
Dual Olympic gold medal-winning cyclist Victoria Pendleton looks set to take part in the Cambridge University United Hunts Club Point-To-Point at Cottenham, near Cambridge, on Sunday November 29th.
Just nine months after having her initial riding lesson, the 35-year-old will be jumping a steeplechase fence for the first time in public if she partners Minella Theatre in the race that kicks off the 2015-16 Point-To-Point season, the PPORA Club Members Race, which comes under orders at noon.
Minella Theatre is one of 87 horses entered in a six-race fixture which concludes at 2.55pm with a two and a half mile Young Horse Maiden Race.
Sponsored by the betting exchange, Betfair, 35-year-old Pendleton has been enticed out of retirement to attempt an audacious‘Switching Saddles’ challenge with the aim of transforming from a complete novice to riding at the world’s most prestigious jumps racing fixture – the Cheltenham Festival – in March 2016.
Britain’s most successful female Olympian with two golds medals and one silver, since hanging up her lycra body suit after London 2012 Pendleton is best known for competing in that year’s Strictly Come Dancing, in which she finished eighth.
She has been taking this challenge incredibly seriously, receiving initial riding tuition from one of the country’s top instructors, British Eventing’s National Coach, Yogi Breisner, and also getting guidance from the champion racehorse trainer, Paul Nicholls.
Pendleton was beaten into second in a photo finish on her first ride in an official race, on the flat at Ripon on August 31st. She has had two more unsuccessful flat rides since then but is now diverting her attention to the more difficult - and highly dangerous - discipline of point-to-pointing (amateur steeplechasing).
She will compete throughout the upcoming Point-To-Point season on two Betfair-owned horses, According To Sarah and Sedgemoor Express, both trained, like Minella Theatre, by the Oxfordshire-based handler, Alan Hill.
Should she make her steeplechasing debut at Cottenham it will be something of a return to her roots for Pendleton as, although she was brought up in Stotfold, in Bedfordshire, she was a member of Mildenhall Cycling Club in Suffolk and her first ever bike race, way back in 1989, was on a grass track at Fordham, near Newmarket.
She may be in action more than once at Cottenham on Sunday. Apart from riding Minella Theatre, she has another possible mount in the Ladies Open race at 1.10pm.
If she competes at Cottenham, once her riding commitments are over, Pendleton has kindly agreed to take part in an autograph session, so spectators will have the chance to meet her and get her to sign their racecards.
The Cambridge University United Hunts Club meeting is just the first of 14 Point-To-Point fixtures in East Anglia during the 2015-16 season.
Cottenham also plays host to the second fixture, the Cambridgeshire Harriers Hunts Club, on January 3rd, and thereafter there are regular fixtures at Higham (near Colchester), Ampton (near Bury St Edmunds), Horseheath (near Haverhill), High Easter (near Chelmsford) and Fakenham (in north Norfolk) before the season draws to a close at Northaw (near Potters Bar) on May Day Bank Holiday Monday, May 2nd.
Cottenham is four miles north of Cambridge near the B1049, post code CB24 8RG. It is best approached using junction 33 of the A14.
Take the A10 signed for Ely. Then take the third left (after the Park and Ride and the Recycling Centre) to Landbeach. Go straight through the village of Landbeach, passing the playing field on your left, and take the first left out the other side. The course is half a mile further down this road.
Admission will be charged at £13 per head to include a free racecard with OAPs and students priced at £11 and children under 17 allowed in for free..
The National Website can be found at: www.pointtopoint.co.uk