Champion jockey says Victoria...

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Champion jockey says Victoria Pendleton should not ride in Cheltenham after fall

Off The Ball
Off The Ball

10:23 21 Feb 2016


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Victoria Pendleton was unseated in her first race over regulated fences on Friday when she fell from her horse during the Betfair Switching Saddles “Grassroots” Fox Hunters’ Chase at Fakenham.

The Olympic champion was riding the 8/13 favourite Pacha Du Polder for a second time when she was tossed from the saddle during the three-mile race.

Pendleton, who escaped the incident unharmed, is scheduled to feature in the Cheltenham festival and the jockey stressed that she wanted to continue with that plan when she spoke to media after the race.

And referring to the fall, the 35 year-old said it had no impact on her confidence but also admitted that she will have to wait for others to approve her participation in Cheltenham.

''It’s up to the team of experts to decide whether I’m ready for Cheltenham – I hope I am. I appreciate this is what happens, and it was going to happen sooner or later. I’ve had a good run, I’ve not had a fall until now really. More than anything it’s a bruised ego but it won’t put me off.''

But not everyone in the horse-racing circuit echoes her enthusiasm. One of her detractors is John Francome, a former champion jump jockey and Channel 4 analyst. Speaking to The Guardian, he questioned her competency as a rider and said he feared for her safety.

''She wants saving from herself. I’ve never met her, she seems a lovely girl but she can’t ride and she’s an accident waiting to happen. She could have fallen off at any fence. It’s not just about Cheltenham, she could come off on a Sunday afternoon at a point to point. She wants stopping before she hurts herself.”

Meanwhile retired jump jockey Richard Pitman applauded her progress but said she is lacking in experience.

''She’s done incredibly well. I just would like to have seen her have three rides [rather than one or two] every Sunday because you cannot beat experience. My heart bleeds for her because she is so committed and she is so good at what she does. It’s amazing, in a year, what she has done. I just would like to have seen her have 50 rides.”

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