Queen of cycling is back in the saddle – at Ripon races

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VICTORIA PENDLETON is now under starter’s orders to make her Flat racing debut at Ripon on Bank Holiday Monday after her riding licence was approved.

She will ride the Lawney Hill-trained Royal Etiquette in a contest for amateur rides just six months after taking up horse riding following her retirement from track cycling in 2012.

The two-time Olympic champion had to undergo rigorous tests at the British Racing School and harbours ambitions of competing over jumps in the prestigious Foxhunters’ Chase at next year’s Cheltenham Festival.

Even though Pendleton rode in a charity race at Newbury last month, Ripon’s race will be a totally different proposition.

“The experience has been life changing; I can’t imagine my life without it now,” said Pendleton who has also been tutored by top equine guru Yogi Breisner in her venture which is being sponsored by online bookmaker Betfair.

However Hill, who trains in the Cotswolds, cannot fault the courage being shown by the Queen of cycling. “She comes in four to six mornings a week and rides two or three lots,” the trainer told The Yorkshire Post.

“She never complains about anything you ask her to do. There are no tears or tantrums, just her beaming smile. A lot of things are challenging , but she has tremendous core strength and she has fantastic balance from her cycling days.”

Pendleton’s presence is likely to pull in the crowds according to Ripon’s managing director James Hutchinson who said: “Victoria is undertaking a very exciting challenge and it is tremendous that we can play a small part in the next step towards her ultimate goal. We look forward to welcoming her .”