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Victoria Pendleton set to ride at Ripon racecourse

In less than 6 months Victoria Pendleton has impressively gone from complete novice to qualified amateur jockey

First race as an amateur rider will be the Betfair Novice Flat Amateur Series at Ripon this Bank Holiday Monday (31st August) on Royal Etiquette.

Less than 6 months after Betfair announced they would be helping Victoria Pendleton to train to become an amateur jockey, Britain’s most successful female Olympian has acquired her Category A Amateur Rider licence following a thorough assessment last week at the British Racing School in Newmarket.

Pendleton now has her sights set on her first competitive amateur race, the Betfair Novice Flat Amateur Series race at Ripon Racecourse this coming Monday 31 August 2015. The flat race, sponsored by Pendleton’s backers Betfair, will serve to give the former track cyclist further race riding experience following her debut in a charity race at Newbury last month.

The Olympian, turned amateur jockey, was put through her paces last week in the two day Category A Amateur jockey assessment at the British Racing school in Newmarket. The programme consisted of assessments of a rider’s ability schooling over fences and coming out of starting stalls, as well as the individual’s race riding technique on a simulator. There were also lectures on rules and regulations, racecourse procedures and a rigorous fitness assessment. The course was a stern test of the skills and techniques learned over the past 6 months as well as her knowledge of the sport. The assessment is mandatory for any aspiring amateur jockey.

Since Betfair announced the ‘Switching Saddles’ challenge ahead of Cheltenham this year, stating their wish to shine a light on the sport of horse racing, Pendleton’s transformation from total novice to amateur jockey has been remarkable and well received by fellow jockeys and industry experts.

Pendleton’s dedication to the challenge and drive to succeed have been evident throughout, achieving a respectable 8th place finish in a Newbury charity flat race, riding out on a daily basis at trainer Lawney Hill’s yard and schooling regularly with Team GB Equestrian Director Yogi Briesner.

Victoria Pendleton, World and Olympic champion, said:

I’m delighted. Since Betfair first approached me, it’s been a hugely challenging, yet unbelievably exciting 6 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 in the Betfair Novice Flat Amateur series, which will be my first time racing with an official licence, I can’t wait.


British Racing Schools’ Senior Jockey Coach, Richard Pernham, said:

Victoria’s progression from when we first welcomed her for her 2 weeks of intensive training is incredible, she has dedicated herself to Betfair’s challenge like a true professional and that showed during her fine performance throughout the assessment.

It’s always a pleasure having Victoria with us at the British Racing School and we wish her the best of luck for the future and will be delighted if she achieves her ambitious goal of riding in the Foxhunters.


Ripon Racecourse
Ripon Racecourse


Managing Director and Clerk of the Course at Ripon Racecourse, James Hutchinson, 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. 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.

Ripon’s host their traditional Bank Holiday Meeting on Monday (31 August 2105), with an afternoon of racing and a wide range of free activities for the children as part of their annual ‘Family Fun Day’.

Bank Holiday Monday’s programme begins at 2-25 p.m. with the highlight being The Irish Champions Weekend EBF Ripon Champion Two-Years-Old Trophy 2015 – the only Listed race staged at Ripon. This £30,000 contest for precocious juveniles over six furlongs is supported by The European Breeders’ Fund under the Irish Champions Weekend banner.

The race has been won by Malton based trainer Richard Fahey for the past two seasons, last year the race was won by Izzthatright who went onto top the inaugural Doncaster Bloodstock Sales in September selling for a stunning £185,000 to Qatari Champion trainer Jassim Ghazal. In 2013 the race was won by Supplicant, The colt went on to win the Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury the same year.

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