It has been confirmed this morning that Victoria Pendleton will ride in the Foxhunters' Chase at the Cheltenham Festival next week. The Olympic Gold Medal winning cyclist will ride in the race for Paul Nicholls and Andy Stewart on-board Pacha Du Polder and it is sure to be a major event at Prestbury Park.
Pendleton was set the challenge less than a year ago to go from a complete novice to riding in the Cheltenham Festival and despite some bumps in the road it appears that she has achieved her target. Pendleton has clearly worked hard and tasted success for the first time under rules recently when she won on Pacha Du Polder at Wincanton. That win must have given her and her team a real boost and although she has also suffered a number of falls along the way, the decision has been made to allow her to ride at the Festival.
The 'Pendleton experiment' has certainly split opinions among the racing community and it will be fascinating to see how she fares in the hurly burly of the biggest race of the season for these amateur jockeys. Pacha Du Polder is a very good horse and can be backed at 16/1 for the Foxhunters Chase although Pendleton herself has already said that just completing the course will feel like a Gold Medal and punters backing the horse will have to take into account her lack of experience.
Social Media has been awash with reaction to the Pendleton news and as our poll showed this morning there are still plenty who doubt she is ready for such a big occasion. Support for her does seem to be growing though and one thing for sure is that it certainly does add another massive news story to the best four days of the year!
The wider media will descend on Prestbury Park as a result of Pendleton riding at the Festival and that can surely be only a good thing for a sport that often struggles for column inches in the National newspapers.