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Victoria Pendleton unseated on National Hunt horse racing debut

Olympic keirin champ still hopeful of landing ride at Cheltenham Festival next month

Olympic champion cyclist Victoria Pendleton says she remains hopeful to ride at next month’s Cheltenham Festival despite being unseated yesterday in her National Hunt horse racing debut.

The 35-year-old who retired from track cycling after the 2012 Olympic Games and first rode a horse last year was riding in the appropriately named Switching Saddles Grassroots Fox Hunters' Chase for amateur jockeys.

Her mount, odds-on favourite Pacha Du Polder, was well placed when another horse came down in front after the seventh fence, causing Pendleton to come off, reports AFP.

Afterwards, she said: "More than anything it's a bruised ego but it won't put me off. You have to expect a setback at some point and this was one of those days, unfortunately.

"I hope Cheltenham is still the plan," continued Pendleton, who hopes to ride in the Foxhunters Chase amateur race at Cheltenham in front of what will be huge crowds on Gold Cup day.

“Hopefully I'll get another opportunity to sit on him, and get as many rides in as possible between now and then.

"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."

Yesterday’s race was at Fakenham Racecourse in Norfolk, which last September hosted the start of the penultimate stage of the Aviva Tour of Britain.

It’s the second fall inside a week for Pendleton, who was also unseated last Sunday at a point-to-point meeting in Wiltshire.

Her flat racing debut last September was happier when, riding Royal Etiquette, she finished second in a race in Ripon, North Yorkshire.

Pendleton won the keirin at the London 2012 Olympic Games and was silver medallist in the individual sprint when she was beaten by Australia’s Anna Meares – a reversal of the result in Beijing four years earlier when the Briton triumphed over her rival.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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