Victoria Pendleton's #SwitchingSaddles campaign took another giant leap forward last week when she took part in her first point-to-point, riding on Minella Theatre. In her latest exclusive blog for Betfair, Victoria reflects on the experience...
"The feeling of flying over those fences will never get old and I'm really looking forward to racing again at Barbury Castle this Sunday where I'm down to ride According To Sarah for the Betfair Racing Club. Once again I've been bitten by another aspect of the racing bug!"
Looking back to Sunday, I'm really pleased with my first Point to Point at Black Forest Lodge. I absolutely loved the experience - it was fantastic to be around fellow amateur jockeys, who once again were all so welcoming, and it was a real confidence boost to get a first competitive ride over jumps under my belt.
The feeling of flying over those fences will never get old and I'm really looking forward to racing again at Barbury Castle this Sunday where I'm down to ride According To Sarah for the Betfair Racing Club. Once again I've been bitten by another aspect of the racing bug!
On the whole, Black Forest went extremely smoothly which in large part is down to the wonderful Minella Theatre and the ongoing guidance of Alan and Lawney Hill.
I was slightly nervous at the start as there was a lot of waiting around before we set off, something that isn't always the best for Minella, but once we got away I had a clear sight of the first fence which we jumped smoothly to give me a confidence boost.
Once the race was underway properly, the other jockeys started to make their move to find space and being totally honest with myself I could have probably got Minella going a bit earlier - I didn't give him that shove of encouragement early enough and we ended up easing into the race and losing a bit of distance on the rest of the pack.
From then on we jumped the rest of the fences really nicely, but the ground was a bit soft for Minella, I could feel him tiring so with two fences to go I made the decision to pull him up, an option we had discussed before the race.
Despite not finishing, I felt in control every step of the way and learnt huge amounts from the experience - all along the Betfair team and I had agreed that the most important thing was to use the race to build my confidence, and it certainly did that.
In preparation for Barbury Castle, I've been riding every day at Woodway Farm under the guidance of Lawney and Alan Hill, and practicing on my mount for the weekend, According To Sarah. It will be good for my development as she's a slight step up from Minella Theatre, and a lovely horse with a good record under rules so I'm excited to ride her on Sunday.
I know there's a long way to go if I'm to achieve the ambitious goal of riding in the Foxhunters at Cheltenham, but if anything my first experience of Point to Pointing has made me even more determined to do everything in my power to get there.
Wish me luck on Sunday!
Victoria's mount for Sunday at Barbary Castle, According To Sarah, is entered in two races, the Novice Riders' Race (12:00) and the Ladies Open Race (13:10) and a decision as to which race she rides in will be made on the day.