On this day in 2016: Victoria Pendleton falls on racecourse jumps debut
Victoria Pendleton was unseated on her first ride over regulation fences in the Betfair Switching Saddles ‘Grassroots’ Fox Hunters’ Chase at Fakenham on this day in 2016.
The double Olympic cycling champion, then 35, had never sat on a horse before taking up the sport less than a year before and was unscathed after falling off the nine-year-old Pacha Du Polder.
Pendleton was riding Pacha Du Polder for a second time after being beaten in a photo-finish on the same horse at Milborne St Andrew point-to-point the previous January.
The Paul Nicholls-trained gelding, the 8-13 favourite for the three-mile race at Fakenham, was slightly impeded at the seventh fence by Baltic Blue, ridden by Carey Williamson.
Both riders crashed to the ground, but were soon back on their feet and Pendleton said afterwards: “Pacha Du Polder is so excellent and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every fence we’ve schooled over.
“I’m very disappointed I didn’t give him a fair shot. He was an odds-on favourite and it was a disappointing job from me.”
Pendleton went on to finish fifth on Pacha Du Polder in the St James’s Place Foxhunter Chase at Cheltenham the following March.
“It’s probably the greatest achievement of my life,” Pendleton said after her Cheltenham experience.
“I’m overwhelmed – thank you to everyone who has made this possible. I feel honoured.”
Pendleton won cycling gold in the sprint at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the keirin at the 2012 London Games.