Victoria Pendleton made every yard of the running to notch her first win as a jockey aboard Pacha Du Polder in the Betfair Switching Saddles Hunters’ Chase at Wincanton yesterday.
The two-time Olympic cycling champion was unshipped from Paul Nicholls’ charge on her first start under National Hunt Rules at Fakenham just under two weeks ago, but the duo made no mistake this time.
Sharply away, Pendleton survived a couple of sticky leaps to triumph aboard the 5-4 favourite, running out a 29-length victor and earning her the right to ride at the Cheltenham Festival.
Meanwhile, The Last Samuri will complete his preparations for the Crabbie’s Grand National in Saturday’s BetBright Grimthorpe Chase Handicap Chase at Doncaster.
Kim Bailey, who saddled Mr Frisk to win the Aintree spectacular in 1990, will send his charge to Town Moor rather than take up his engagement in the Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
The eight-year-old was last seen when winning at Kempton back in December and Bailey is hoping for sound conditions for his racecourse return at the weekend.
“The Last Samuri will be heading to Doncaster on Saturday for the Grimthorpe Chase,” he said.
“Everything has been perfect with him since his win at Kempton and he wants good ground, which it hopefully should be at Doncaster.
“He is entered at the Cheltenham Festival, but won’t be heading there. We only put him in at Cheltenham in case there were lots of abandonments and we ran out of options. The plan is to go to Doncaster and then straight to Aintree, all being well.
“Saturday’s race looks like it should be a good trial for the Crabbie’s Grand National.”