Cyclist-turned-jockey Victoria Pendleton showed her class by finishing fifth on Pacha Du Polder in the St James’s Place Foxhunter Chase at the Cheltenham Festival this afternoon.
Pendleton gave the Paul Nicholls-trained nine-year-old a very patient ride and travelled fluidly from last place to a fast-finishing fifth behind eventual winner On The Fringe .
Stotforld-born Pendleton, a double Olympic cycling champion, moved through the field with style as the race progressed and, as Nina Carberry produced Enda Bolger’s champion hunter On The Fringe (13-8 favourite) to beat Marito by a neck, Pendleton stayed on strongly to exceed all expectations on the 28-1 shot.
After she returned into a winners’ enclosure – normally reserved for the first four home – Pendleton said: “I can’t believe how nice the crowd has been, I’d like to thank Alan and Lawney Hill, Andy Stewart [owner] and Paul Nicholls, they’ve made this all possible. I feel honoured to have been given this opportunity.
“It’s right up there with everything I’ve ever done, it’s such a rush. Thank you to all the jockeys that have been involved today, they’ve all been so nice and I feel really lucky.
“I think it’s one of the greatest achievements of my life, a special achievement.”
Today’s achievement is yet another highlight in a glittering career which has seen 35-year-old Pendleton become one of Britain’s best known sportswomen.
She won gold in the sprint at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and followed this with success in the keirin at the 2012 London Games – a feat that saw her awarded the CBE, and a postbox in Stotfold painted gold in her honour.
The former pupil of St Mary’s Lower in Stotfold and Etonbury Middle in Arlesey also opened a cycleway in Stotfold named after her in 2007.