Olympic cycling star Victoria Pendleton to make hunter chase debut at Fakenham
- Credit: PA
Victoria Pendleton looks set to make her hunter chase debut on Pacha Du Polder at Fakenham next Friday.
Competing over fences under rules is the next step in the Olympic cycling champion's ambition to ride in the St James's Place Foxhunter Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
Fakenham was delighted at the prospect of Pendleton being in action there.
'It's brilliant news. It would be fantastic to be part of her incredible journey to get to Cheltenham,' said clerk of the course and chief executive, David Hunter.
'We're very proud of our link with the hunter chase and point-to-point fraternity.
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'This would be a great occasion for Fakenham and we will make sure we will look after her in true Fakenham traditional and rather eccentric style and in a professional manner.
'I hope it all comes together. It would be great to see her. The meeting is during half-term. It's always a good day and has been very popular for some years. I'm sure people will come wishing to support Victoria in her quest.
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'It's not every day that an Olympic gold medallist comes to a racecourse so we are really pleased.
'It's great that her first ride over fences under rules will be here,' he added.
Pendleton has already gained flat racing experience and has ridden in point-to-points as she gears up towards reaching her goal.
She went close to winning a point on Pacha Du Polder, when the horse was with trainer Chloe Roddick.
The nine-year-old, runner-up in the Crabbie's Fox Hunters' Chase over the Grand National course at Aintree last season, is now back with champion trainer Paul Nicholls, who will give the partnership the chance to shine in the William Bulwer-Long Memorial Grassroots Fox Hunters´ Chase at the north Norfolk course.
He said: 'Fakenham is the logical target after their excellent debut together when they failed by inches to land a point at Milborne on January 31.
'It is important for Victoria to gain experience in a hunter chase before considering a tilt at the St James's Place Foxhunter at Cheltenham in March.
'The race over three miles at Fakenham looks ideal and comes at a perfect time.
'Pacha Du Polder is a classy chaser, a brilliant jumper, travels well, has smart form over Aintree's National fences and showed he stayed three miles at Milborne.
'The improvement Victoria has made since she began is phenomenal and she now looks the part when she comes down to Ditcheat to ride on the gallops.
'Should she reach Cheltenham, she and Pacha Du Polder are more than capable of finishing in the first six,' said Nicholls.