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Victoria Pendleton finishes fifth on Cheltenham Festival debut as On The Fringe wins Foxhunter Challenge Cup

Pendleton made a late surge to finish fifth but the spoils went to Nina Carberry and reigning champion On The Fringe

Graham Clark
Friday 18 March 2016 17:20 GMT
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Victoria Pendleton waves to the crowd after finishing fifth on Pacha Du Polder
Victoria Pendleton waves to the crowd after finishing fifth on Pacha Du Polder (Reuters)

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.

Nina Carberry enjoys her victory aboard On The Fringe (Reuters)

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.

"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."


 Pendleton made a late surge to finish fifth on her Cheltenham Festival debut
 (PA)

Stewart is hoping the rules governing amateur licences will be changed in order to allow Pendleton another bite of the cherry over the Grand National fences in the Fox Hunters' Chase at Aintree.

He told BBC Radio 5 Live: "All the dissenters said she would fall off at the first, but I've had plenty of my jockeys fall off at the first. She got round nicely and the horse looked after her.

"I just hope the rules will be changed between the Category A and B licences so she can ride him at Aintree.

"As far as we are concerned, he will go to Aintree for the race he finished second in last year.


 Pendleton finished in fifth on her Cheltenham Festival debut
 (Reuters)

"She's got to have a couple more rides under Rules or the rules have got to be changed to ride at Aintree.

"What Victoria has done today is magnificent, she is a credit to the sport."

Results

1. On The Fringe (13/8F)

2. Marito (14/1)

3. Paint The Clouds (9/2)

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