2016 Cheltenham Festival news: Pendleton confirmed as Pacha’s partner
David Metcalf | March 7, 2016
Olympic champ Pendleton confirms she will ride in Foxhunter
Victoria Pendleton confirmed today that she will ride at the Cheltenham Festival, and Coral make her a 16/1 chance to secure a dream success on Pacha Du Polder in the St James’s Place Foxhunter Chase on Friday, March 18th.
The dual Olympic cycling champion was unseated from Pacha Du Polder at Fakenham before partnering the Paul Nicholls trained nine-year-old to a wide margin success at Wincanton last week.
Speaking at a press conference today in London, 35-year-old Pendleton stated: “It is not a decision I have taken lightly. I feel capable of being part of that race.
“The whole journey has been a remarkable experience and I have a lot of lasting memories from the last 12 months. I would also like to add that I’m delighted that the Stewart family has kindly made Pacha Du Polder available for Cheltenham.”
“This has been no walk in the park. It has been physically demanding. I’ve had to dig deep, but I never wanted to give up. There’ll be a phenomenal crowd at Cheltenham and I am so excited. Getting round would be incredible. If I get round on the horse and complete the course I’ll feel like that’s a gold medal.”
Colorado ruled out of Champion Bumper
Aspen Colorado, who had been 8/1 with Coral for the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival, will not run in the race.
Joseph O’Brien, son of the JP Mcmanus owned gelding’s trainer Aidan, broke the news on Twitter early this afternoon.
He tweeted: “I spoke with JP [McManus] and Frank [Berry] this morning, Aspen Colorado will not go to Cheltenham and the plan is to go to Limerick on April 3rd.”
Aspen Colorado had been at the head of the betting since making a winning debut at Leopardstown in January.
The four-year-old followed up with a workmanlike victory at the same venue last month, and clearly didn’t show enough to persuade connections to let him take his chance at the Festival on Wednesday, March 16th.
Ballyandy is now the 6/1 favourite with Coral for the Champion Bumper, with the Willie Mullins trained mare Augusta Kate next best in at 7/1.
Meade wants Gold for Road To Riches
Irish trainer Noel Meade is adamant Road To Riches should run in the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Friday week, for which he is currently 16/1 with Coral.
Third in the race last season behind Coneygree and Djakadam, the nine-year-old also holds an entry in the Ryanair Chase over the shorter trip of 2m 5f.
County Meath based Meade is convinced the Ryanair will not be sufficient a stamina test for Road To Riches, but is dependant upon owners Gigginstown House Stud making a final decision.
Gigginstown are also responsible for leading Gold Cup contenders Don Poli, Don Cossack and Valseur Lido, and they would appear to have stronger credentials than Road To Riches.
Meade said: “I would hope he goes for the Gold Cup, but we’re going to have to see what way they call it. I honestly don’t think the Ryanair will suit him – I think it’s too short.
“He got the Gold Cup trip very well last year. As Coneygree isn’t in it, I imagine he’d have every chance of beating the second.”