Victoria Pendleton in her jockey silks at Newbury last monthPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Pendleton given licence before first ride at Ripon
OLYMPIC cycling champion Victoria Pendleton on Wednesday cleared the next hurdle in her challenge to compete as a rider at the Cheltenham Festival when she was granted an amateur licence.
After a two-day assessment at the British Racing School in Newmarket last week, Britain's most successful female Olympian has been issued with the Category A amateur rider licence that will enable her to contest her first race under rules at Ripon on Monday.
Pendleton took up horse riding for the first time less than six months ago, and finished eighth in a charity race at Newbury last month. She is set to partner the Lawney Hill-trained Royal Etiquette and will get a 3lb claim in the Ripon handicap, part of the Betfair Novice Flat Amateur Series.
Pendleton, a world and Olympic champion on the track who retired from the saddle after London 2012, has been riding out daily for Hill and receiving regular tuition from Yogi Breisner as part of the Betfair-sponsored project.
She said: "I'm delighted. It's been a hugely challenging, yet unbelievably exciting, six months. I have been working extremely hard with Lawney and Alan Hill and Yogi Breisner to prepare for this and couldn't thank them enough. The experience has been life changing. I can't imagine my life without it now.
"There's still a long way to go to achieve the ambitious goal of riding in the Foxhunter Chase at Cheltenham next year, but I'm more than happy with my progress so far. Next up is Ripon, which will be my first time racing with an official licence, I can't wait."