Former Olympic gold medallist turned professional jockey Victoria Pendleton is helping to ensure that women are taken more seriously in the world of horse racing as a result of her recent heroics. Having taken to the saddle for the first time just twelve months ago, she achieved a remarkable fifth place at the Foxhunters Chase at the recent Cheltenham Festival. Paul Nicholls trained, Pacha Du Polder, was the chosen horse for the former Olympian, and with a place outside the top three previously being inconceivable for Pendleton, a fifth place finish was a remarkable outcome given her lack of experience.
Having received much criticism during her initiation into the sport, Pendleton responded in the only way she knows how. With women failing to get much of a look-in in horse racing, Pendleton made it look all too easy, and with greater experience could well have even challenged the frontrunners. In the same race, Nina Carberry was victorious riding On The Fringe, as women jockeys stole the show in the iconic race. The achievements of the two will certainly have brought more attention onto the male dominated sport, and despite many questioning Pendleton’s controversial venture onto the saddle, the potential impact that it may have cannot be denied. Pendleton, who was 20/1 with bookmakers Coral to win at Cheltenham, returns to action this week with a meeting at her local race course.
The world of horse racing now turns its attention to Royal Ascot, with the glitz and glamour of the famous event attracting record numbers of foreign entries this year. Over one hundred and sixty horses from outside of the UK will descend on the Ascot to compete in such races as the Queen Anne and Diamond Jubilee Stakes. Australian sprinter Chautauqua is one of the many stars on show, and at 10/1 with Coral on to claim glory in the Diamond Jubilee. Coral are in the saddle when it comes to Royal Ascot tips, and the horse could well be one of the winners come June.
The US could field four participants, while Australia with nine and Germany with four are the other main contributors. Race organisers are understandably delighted with such an influx of talent as they aim to welcome record crowds to Berkshire based course.
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By Mike Valverde