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Pendleton finishes fifth in Foxhunter at Cheltenham

Pendleton came a commendable fifth. Credit: PA

Victoria Pendleton exceeded all expectations by finishing fifth on Pacha Du Polder in the St James's Place Foxhunter Chase at Cheltenham.

Pendleton gave the Paul Nicholls-trained nine-year-old a very patient ride and was stone last for the first mile.

As the race began to evolve, Pendleton, a double Olympic cycling champion, began to move through the field with style.

Dependable in the jumping department, Pacha Du Polder was making lengths at some fences but turning into the straight Pendleton still had plenty of horses in front of her.

As Nina Carberry brought Enda Bolger's champion hunter On The Fringe (13-8 favourite) through to beat Marito by a neck, Pendleton stayed on strongly to complete an afternoon to remember.

Pendleton, whose mount earned £936 in prize-money for fifth, 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. I think it's one of the greatest achievements of my life, a special achievement."

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Sprinter Sacre soars in Queen Mother Champion Chase

Sprinter Sacre raised the roof by regaining his crown in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham.

Invincible when imperious in this race three years ago, Sprinter Sacre has had a succession of well-documented problems but has been brought back by his trainer Nicky Henderson to be the top two-miler again.

Sprinter Sacre (5-1) surged past a tame Un De Sceaux. Credit: PA

Sprinter Sacre (5-1) surged past a tame Un De Sceaux two out and pulled clear under Nico de Boinville to bring a packed house down at Prestbury Park.

Un De Sceaux, the 4-6 favourite, was still second best, beaten three and a half lengths behind the popular winner after being unable to dominate in his usual manner.

The pace had been set by Special Tiara (16-1), who was just a nose behind Un De Sceaux in third.

Henderson said: "It's been a long, long journey - those were two very, very grim years.

"That was unbelievable. That was about dreams, wasn't it?"

Pendleton to ride at Cheltenham Festival

Victoria Pendleton will ride Pacha Du Polder at the Cheltenham Festival on Friday week.

The dual Olympic cycling champion will partner Pacha Du Polder in the St James's Place Foxhunter Chase on Friday week.

Victoria Pendleton will be on Pacha Du Polder. Credit: PA

Pacha Du Polder's trainer Paul Nicholls and a team of experts made the decision to allow the 35-year-old the chance to fulfil her dream of appearing at next week's Festival.

She said: "We have always had the extremely ambitious target of riding competitively in the Foxhunter as our goal, so to be announcing that I have achieved this goal is a truly amazing feeling."

Victoria Pendleton unseated again

Victoria Pendleton was unseated in February too, riding Pacha Du Polder at Fakenham. Credit: PA

Victoria Pendleton's Cheltenham Festival dreams suffered a potential jolt after she was unseated in a point-to-point at Kingston Blount on Saturday.

Just days after winning a first race as a jockey at Wincanton, the double Olympic cycling champion was riding the Alan Hill-trained Supreme Danehill when she lost a stirrup after jumping the third fence from the finish and came out of the saddle.

Hill's wife, Lawney, has been one of Pendleton's chief mentors during her Betfair-backed 'Switching Saddles' challenge since it was announced last March that she would make the transition from velodrome to racecourse.

She said: "Unfortunately she's had a fall, but she got up and walked away and is perfectly all right.

"The horse pitched on landing after jumping the third-last. She did well to stay in the saddle, but unfortunately she lost one of her irons, became unbalanced and gravity won."

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