Pendleton prepares for return to the saddle at Beverley

Beverley-bound: Victoria Pendleton on board Royal Etiquette at Ripon Races recently. Picture: Adrian Murray.
Beverley-bound: Victoria Pendleton on board Royal Etiquette at Ripon Races recently. Picture: Adrian Murray.
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Olympic cycling champion Victoria Pendleton is due to have her second competitive ride as a jockey at Beverley on Tuesday.

Pendleton, 34, will once again partner the Lawney Hill-trained Royal Etiquette in the Betfair Supports Amateur Riders’ Handicap on the Westwood after making her debut aboard that horse at Ripon last month.

The eight-year-old gelding, who is owned by Hill’s husband, Alan, was beaten just a head behind 33-1 chance Jordaura on that occasion.

The Hill team has worked closely with Pendleton since the double Olympic champion embarked on a quest to become an amateur rider earlier this year, with a long-term goal of competing in the Foxhunter Chase at the 2016 Cheltenham Festival.

Her ‘Switching Saddles’ adventure is in partnership with Betfair.

The online bookmakers have provided the fledgling jockey with a team of specialists including Team GB eventing performance manager Yogi Breisner.

Pendleton had her first raceday experience in the George Frewer Charity Race at Newbury in July, when she finished eighth aboard the Hill-trained Mighty Mambo.

Britain’s most successful female Olympian then gained clearance to ride competitively at Ripon after she was awarded a Category A amateur riders’ licence at the end of last month following a two-day assessment at the British Racing School in Newmarket.

Pendleton said: “The ‘Switching Saddles’ challenge to date has been incredibly exciting.

“I’ve been working hard with Betfair and the team for just under seven months.

“When I started I couldn’t ride a horse and now I have ridden in a charity race, achieved my category A licence and finished second in my amateur debut at Ripon in the Betfair Amateur Series.

“There is something special about riding in a race, the energy from the crowd really hits you as you enter the home straight and you can feel yourself and the horse reacting to that.

“All the early mornings and hours of training are worth it for that feeling alone.

“Needless to say, I’m really looking forward to riding at Beverley in the Betfair Supports Amateur Riders’ Handicap and experiencing that feeling again, but more importantly these races really give me a chance to test myself against other amateur jockeys in preparation for Cheltenham in March and I hope that I can put another good performance in on the 22nd.”

Beverley chief executive Sally Iggulden said: “We have always been strong supporters of amateur jockeys at Beverley, and, indeed, Yorkshire is home to some of the very best who have learnt their trade on the Westwood.

“We are delighted that Betfair and Victoria Pendleton have put Beverley on their path towards Cheltenham in March.

“Victoria will be taking on fully-fledged amateur jockeys for the first time at Beverley, and will be sharing the changing rooms with leading lights such as Serena Brotherton and Joanna Mason, who are battling it out for the title.

“Can Victoria cause an upset? Who knows, but I am sure that conquering the unique challenge of the Westwood track will stand her in good stead for the future.”

Today’s meeting at Yarmouth has been abandoned following a 5pm inspection.

Yesterday afternoon’s card was called off with three races still to run after heavy rain on top of quick ground raised safety concerns.

Officials checked conditions again later in the afternoon but felt it best to make an early decision and cancel the final day of their three-day fixture.

Jon Pullin, director of racing operations for ARC, who own Yarmouth, said: “We’ve been to have a good look just to see what this rain has actually done and the impact of it.

“We’ve had over 10 millimetres since 3pm already and having looked at the track, our view is that we’re not going to be safe enough to guarantee racing.

“Unfortunately we’ll abandon Thursday’s card.

“What we do know about this track at the moment is that it takes a while for rain to circulate through so rain is sitting on the top with 10-15 mm due in the next two to three hours with even more significant rain to come.

“Even if we left it until tomorrow there’d still be rain on top of the track.”

Yarmouth has only recently reopened following remedial work to the track and Pullin feels the ground is too “immature” to cope with extremes of weather.

He added: “This is just freakish weather, we’ve had a really bad run since we started the work. We wanted it done last October, but it was the wettest in recent years.

“The team have done a fantastic job and we’ve run two successful meetings.

“It’s an immature track and doesn’t cope with extremes of weather like a mature track would.

“It was always our intention to get Yarmouth back on the map and get trainers bringing their good young horses here again.

“The feedback from the first couple of meetings was verypositive.”