Victoria Pendleton hits the deck as it all goes wrong for her at Fakenham

Jockey Victoria Pendletonat Fakenham Racecourse. Nigel French/PA Wire

Jockey Victoria Pendletonat Fakenham Racecourse. Nigel French/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Olympic queen Victoria Pendleton and odds-on favourite Pacha Du Polder hadn't read the script when they parted company after a mile of the three-mile hunter chase she was desperate to win.

The Fakenham crowd cheered as she left the parade ring on champion trainer Paul Nicholls' gelding, the highest rated of the six horses in yesterday's Betfair Switching Saddles Grassroots Hunters' Chase.

Former cyclist Pendleton, a national treasure after winning gold at London's 2012 Games, jumped the first, in front of the stands, three lengths adrift of the field.

However, when Pendleton approached the same fence on the next circuit, the seventh of the 18 obstacles, her race ended.

Carey Williamson was unseated from Baltic Blue on Pendleton's inside and within a split-second Pendleton also hit the grass.


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I was the first of the massed ranks of racing journalists to reach her as she walked from the course.

'I'm fine. I'm just so cross. I'm perfectly ok but so cross and disappointed,' was her immediate reaction.

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I asked if Baltic Blue's fall had impeded her mount.

'I don't know if the horse was distracted. The other horse jumped a bit skiffy and next thing I know I was out of the side door,' she said.

The 35-year-old Olympic champion announced last March she was embarking on the challenge to make the transition from velodrome to racecourse, with the aim of riding at the Cheltenham Festival.

Her plan to ride at Cheltenham in four weeks' time must now be in some doubt, with a decision-making meeting due to take place next week.

At a press conference later, Pendleton, while admitting having a 'bruised ego,' confirmed she was still in love with riding.

'This hasn't put me off. I love riding and I will continue to do it. I will ride out every day if I can. A year ago I hadn't even had my first lesson. It's all gone so smoothly and today has been a setback. But it's just a setback, that sort of thing happens in sport,' she said.

'I'm just so disappointed. We've come a long way and my mum was here to watch,' she added.

The race was won by Josephine Banks on trainer Martin Weston's Vasco Du Mee.

A superb ride by Kielan Woods helped Gamain win the Tim Barclay Chase, for trainer Ben Case. Three of the seven fell in an incident-packed race which left The Italian Yob clear. But Woods conjured an effort from Gamain and a good jump at the last clinched victory.

Work In Progress looked a great prospect when taking the novices' hurdle for jockey Harry Skelton and trainer brother Dan.

In front throughout, nothing got near as the 10/11 favourite who scored by 31 lengths after a faultless display of hurdling.

There was drama at the third flight of the selling hurdle. Leader Run Hurricane crashed out under Dave Crosse and brought down Vertueux and Indian Daudaie.

The race won by Brendan Powell on Razzle Dazzle. Trainer Shaun Harris' gelding had never been placed in 14 previous attempts but scored well at 11/2 while Crosse was taken to hospital for precautionary back X-rays.

Veteran trainer Mick Easterby saw his 15/8 favourite Roycano take the novices' hurdle under Harry Bannister, a first win under rules for the gelding who easily accounted for five rivals.

Only two contested the opening chase which proved a facile success for the Skeltons' Willow's Saviour, returned at one of the shortest prices seen at Fakenham, 1/20.

Willow Saviour, who won the Ladbroke Hurdle 15 months ago, put in a perfect display of jumping to easily defeat sole rival Larteta.

The day got better for jockey Skelton when he completed a super treble, winning the finale on Potters Lady Jane for trainer Lucy Wadham at 7/2.

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