Pendleton set to make Bicester appearance ahead of Cheltenham Festival debut

Victoria Pendleton, seen here at Fakenham, could ride at Whitfield on Sunday ahead of the Cheltenham Festival (pictures by Paul Marsh)
Victoria Pendleton, seen here at Fakenham, could ride at Whitfield on Sunday ahead of the Cheltenham Festival (pictures by Paul Marsh)
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Olympic cycling champion Victoria Pendleton may have her last ride before the Cheltenham Festival at the Bicester with Whaddon Chase Point-to-Point at Whitfield on Sunday.

Stotfold-born Pendleton, given the green light to ride Pacha Du Polder in the St. James’s Place Foxhunter Chase on Friday week, is engaged to ride According To Sarah in the Strutt and Parker Novice Riders race.

The standard is set by the Levinson Family’s Premier Portrait, a four-time winner this season, while rider Abigail Banks has the option of consistent course winner Well Mett or convincing Thorpe Lodge scorer Arthur’s Secret.

Stablemate Ice Cool Benny, another to consider, may renew rivalry with Mattara, the mount of Abbie McCain, daughter of National Hunt trainer Donald.

Pointing newcomer Xaarcet, bidding to give trainer Tom Messenger and rider Lottie Crane more success at this fixture, completes the shortlist.

Owner, trainer and rider Sarah Rippon will hope decisive Cocklebarrow scorer Good Egg can maintain her 100 per cent record at the course in the Kehoe Contractors Mixed Open race.

Successful with her only previous mount, Metal Detector, at this meeting in 2012, Rippon’s charge should be suited by the staying track. Stiff opposition comes from Hunter Chase winners Popaway (Pauline Harkin), Sharp Suit (Alan Hill) and Stratford Stroller (Diana Ralph).

Ralph also saddles the most interesting contender for the Glencore Grain Intermediate race.

Lightly-raced seven-year-old Master Sunrise, a winner of two of his three lifetime starts, is unexposed and should go well under Leo Mahon.

Credit Crunched was runner-up in a similar event at Larkhill last month and can give another good account but the Gerald Bailey-trained Fearthedark has become expensive to follow. Pytchley handler Stuart Morris is double-handed with Katkolys and Proximo.

The Axelle Wall-trained Big Bad Barry may take the beating in the Clancy Docwra Restricted race. The five-year-old is held in high regard and has been purchased by rider David Maxwell to stay between the flags.

Tom Lacey’s unraced four-year-old Russian Service, a €38,000 Derby Sale purchase last June, is a clear pick for the TFM Networks Open Maiden. Ex-Irish Pointer The Bay Oak is another of interest for Belvoir trainer Antonia Bealby.

Phoebe Taylor, successful with her first ever ride in last year’s renewal of the Lancer Asset Management Hunt Members race, has the chance to emulate that victory with either Curraghchase or Roseneath.

The first race, the Jockey Club and Denton Tavara Open Mares Maiden, is due off at 12:30. Prior to the Point-to-Point action, three Pony Races are scheduled with the first at 11:30.

Advance e-tickets can be purchased at www.bicesterhunt.co.uk at £20 per car (£10 single occupancy) with premium parking available at £30. These prices will increase by £5 on the day.

A full bar, catering facilities and trade stands will be available on site. Whitfield Racecourse is situated just off the A43 between Silverstone and Brackley with access from Whitfield village, which will be well signed.