Racing: Olympic cycle star Pendleton set for breakthrough Ripon ride

Victoria Pendleton
Victoria Pendleton
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RIPON Racecourse is always guaranteed a decent crowd for their traditional Bank Holiday Meeting where the Champion Two-Years-Old Trophy features on ‘Family Fun Day.’

But there’s an extra reason to get on your bike to this year’s fixture where Victoria Pendleton is set to have her first ride as an amateur jockey, declaring: “next up is Ripon and I can’t wait!”

Less than six months after Betfair announced they would be helping Pendleton become an amateur jockey, the dual Olympic gold medallist has acquired her Category A Amateur Rider licence.

Pendleton will now partner the Lawney Hill-trained Royal Etiquette in Monday’s Betfair Novice Flat Amateur Riders’ Handicap over an extended mile and a quarter. And James Hutchinson, Ripon’s managing director and clerk of the course, says the added attraction is just the tonic ahead of a meeting that is annually a popular fixture in its own right.

“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,” said Hutchinson.

“This will be an added bonus for our many race-goers to enjoy at our Bank Holiday family day.

“We look forward to welcoming her to Ripon and wish her all the best in her race in the Betfair Novice Flat Amateur series.”

All eyes will be on Pendleton in what is scheduled to be the fixture’s finale and due off at 5.30pm. Yet the most prestigious race on the card is The Irish Champions Weekend EBF Ripon Champion Two-Years-Old Trophy 2015 – the only Listed race staged at Ripon – due off at 3.45pm. The £30,000 contest for precocious juveniles over six furlongs has been won by Malton based trainer Richard Fahey for the past two seasons, whose Holy Grail is his sole remaining entry.

But just under two hours later the stage will be set for Pendleton whose ultimate aim is to switch codes and ride in the Foxhunters Chase at the Cheltenham Festival next year.

Pendleton said: “Since Betfair first approached me, it’s been a hugely challenging, yet unbelievably exciting six months. I have been working extremely hard with Lawney and Alan Hill and Yogi Briesner to prepare for this and couldn’t thank them enough. The experience has been life changing; I can’t imagine my life without it now.

“There’s still a long way to go to achieve the ambitious goal of riding in the Foxhunters Chase at Cheltenham next year, but I’m more than happy with my progress so far. Next up is Ripon on 31st August which will be my first time racing with an official licence. I can’t wait.”


BEVERLEY: Mother Nature will dictate which of Stuart Williams’ runners compete in the Listed Totepool Beverley Bullet on Saturday. The Newmarket handler has Holley Shiftwell and Cordial in contention and said: “If it’s good or better, then Holley would run, and if it’s good to soft or worse than that, then we’d run Cordial.”

MAUNBY: David Barron feels promising juvenile Bing Bang Bong will have no issues stepping up in trip after his deeply encouraging second-placed finish behind Recorder in the Acomb Stakes. Barron said: “He’s had three runs now so we just need sit tight and take stock. He’s a lovely horse and you would’ve thought a mile would be fine for him.”

BOOKMAKERS: One of the world’s biggest gambling businesses is set to be created after Paddy Power and Betfair agreed a possible merger. The new online gaming and betting chain would have revenues of £1.1billion (1.5billion euro) with the boards having agreed in principle to rebrand the merged businesses as Paddy Power Betfair.


Five to follow

1, Fool To Cry (tonight, 8.15pm Wolverhampton): No tears after this filly who ran a nice race when third on debut and represents the powerful yard of Roger Varian.

2, Liberality (tonight, 9.15pm Wolverhampton): Split a pair of subsequent winners last time and can strike here for John Gosden, pictured above.

3, Promising Run (tomorrow, 2pm Newmarket): Third on debut and Group-race entries suggest best is yet to come.

4, Cape Love (tomorrow, 2.20pm Thirsk): Sets the standard with only Mark Johnston’s runner to worry about.

5, Le Rouquin (tomorrow, 5.05pm Thirsk): Rider’s 10lbs claim can prove the difference.



RICHARD PRICE: Who?! Small string stable but in fine form as three of his last four runners have won. Hughie Morrison and Brendan Powell are also going well.


CLIVE COX: Not exactly flying ahead of Kodi Bear’s bid for glory in the Celebration Mile on Saturday. Be wary also of soft ground causing funny results at present.