Britain's most successful female Olympian Victoria Pendleton has set her sights on a new sporting adventure - next year's Cheltenham Festival.
Pendelton, 34, won two gold, one silver and one bronze in a storied Olympic career on the bicycle, but has teamed up with bookmakers Betfair to pursue her dream of riding in the 2016 Foxhunter Chase.
she is already working with champion trainer Paul Nicholls and eventing guru Yogi Breisner, in the hope of obtaining her Category A amateur licence which would allow her to ride in amateur races on the Flat and over jumps, as well as competing in the point-to-point field.
Pendleton said: "I've been looking for a new and exciting challenge. When Betfair approached me about the opportunity to train to become a licensed amateur jockey, it captured my imagination.
"I'm motivated by the scale of the challenge and the opportunity to combine my love of horses with learning a new skill under the guidance of the team of horse-racing experts Betfair has put in place for me.
"I will be working closely with Yogi Breisner, Chris King and Paul Nicholls to help train and advise me over the next 12 months.
"My team and I have identified the ambitious target of riding competitively in the Foxhunters Chase at Cheltenham Festival next year, but the initial focus will be on getting me to a level whereby I am granted an amateur jockey licence, which is a significant challenge in itself given that I had never even sat on a horse until a week ago."
Breisner, who is the eventing performance manager for Team GB, will be acting as a mentor to Pendleton and believes her athletic mindset will be a huge plus.
He said: "Victoria is a hugely talented, ambitious and gutsy individual, and these traits will stand her in the best stead possible for achieving this ambitious goal.
"Having worked with her for a week, the progress she has already made in such a small amount of time is quite frankly remarkable. It's a real privilege to work with Victoria on a challenge of this magnitude.
"While no one under estimates the scale of the challenge ahead, Victoria's undoubted mental and physical strength, coupled with the team Betfair have put together to help her with this challenge, means we are in a fantastic position for Victoria to achieve the ambitious goal of riding at Cheltenham Festival in 2016".
Nicholls will provide full use of his facilities as well as guidance for Pendleton and he too has no doubts her will to succeed.
He said: "Victoria Pendleton is an outstanding athlete with a real drive and determination, so whilst this is an incredibly difficult challenge, these attributes are exactly what you need to become a jockey.
"Having the competitive mind set of an Olympic champion, I've no doubt will put her in a great place to succeed in this challenge whilst also shining a much deserved light on the sport of horse racing."
Betfair is hoping Pendleton's involvement in the sport will help raise the profile of racing and in particular the efforts of jockeys.
Brand director Mark Ody said: "Betfair is proud to be partnering with Victoria Pendleton for this ground breaking challenge. With her commitment to training and elite performance, Victoria will increase the visibility into the amazing feats of jockeys and provide an entertaining perspective on horse racing.
"With Victoria's Olympic pedigree, our support network, and a lot of hard work, we're all hugely confident that we'll be cheering Victoria on in the Foxhunters Chase at Cheltenham Festival 2016."
Additional reporting from PAReuse content