VICTORIA Pendleton was narrowly denied a first winner as an amateur jockey after her mount Pacha Du Polder was beaten in a photo-finish at Milborne St Andrew point-to-point on Sunday.

The former Olympic cycling champion, who lives in Moreton, near Thame, is likely to be her mount in the Foxhunter Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

Runner-up in the Crabbie’s Fox Hunters’ Chase at Aintree last year when trained by Paul Nicholls, the nine-year-old is now in the care of Chloe Roddick in Somerset and is already qualified for the amateur riders’ Gold Cup at Prestbury Park in March.

Running in the Ladies Open with Pendleton on board for the first time, Pacha Du Polder ran a fine race in defeat, going down by just a head.

Pendleton has been mentored since the start of her journey to become a jockey by trainers Alan and Lawney Hill, who are based at Aston Rowant, and the latter was on hand for her latest ride.

“Paul told Victoria to drop the horse out as he can be quite keen,” said Hill. “He also told her to keep him wide and she did exactly as she was asked.

“She was a length down at the last and it looked like it might be a struggle, but she pushed him all the way to the line and in the end they’ve been beaten a head.

“Paul said the horse could run in another Ladies Open or a hunter chase in around a fortnight.

“It’s a very pleasing day and Victoria did a great job.”