Victoria Pendleton Has Exposed Racing’s Petty Mindset


It has been reported in the Racing Post that VICTORIA PENDLETON was on Monday confirmed to ride Pacha Du Polder in the St James’s Place Foxhunter Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

It is fair to say that Victoria Pendleton has divided opinion in racing, albeit an unequal division. She has come in for so much criticism, but I can not believe what I have read. Well I can believe it because I have been involved in this game for over 10 years full time and for the best part of 25 years in total. So let’s set the cat amongst the pigeons! 

Social media is a place where jealousy, bitterness and resentment rules. So I am not going to waste my time in taking any notice what the moronic fringe has to say. She has been paid a six figure sum for this project, but these intelligentsia didn’t put up a penny of it, they are though jealous and bitter about that and have not looked beyond that.

However, respected pundits and people within the “racing family”,  have been scathing in their opposition to her. I find it mind boggling. I personally think instead of moaning they should welcome her involvement and look to see what she can learn.

The first observation I would make is she has only recently learned to ride, already she looks better in the saddle than many who have been doing it all their lives. Why do you think that is? Application, dedication and a will to win that has seen her become a legend in the world of cycling. They do not give gold medals (plural) away with lucky bags.

I know a fair bit about British Cycling and it’s rise from nothing to world domination. In fact it is the 2012 Olympic domination, in London, of TEAM GB Cycling that had a massive impact on my life personally. I saw an interview with Dave Brailsford, (Now Sir Dave) who spoke about “Marginal Gains” and attributed much of the success to the psychology of winning and Doctor Steve Peters (Now Professor Steve).

As a result of that interview I bought Steve Peter’s book, The Chimp Paradox. This book is the most important I have ever read, it changed my life, completely. I lost four stone plus in weight and have become a far more successful person as a result. I have indeed written my own book. However this is not about me.

Victoria Pendleton was part of a coaching and development program that surpasses anything that exists in racing, by a distance, to maintain the racing parlance. She has achieved success on a world stage, over a log period of time. She has a physical and mental will to win that a minute amount of people can ever hope to achieve.

Back to the money argument, I suspect that it is not about money for her. She has more money than she needs, I suspect, her profile has been earned and can command more than anyone in racing, even AP and Dettori are below her in the A list of sporting personalities. Any fee paid to her is commensurate with her profile. I would suggest that this challenge is about having a goal to achieve, to push herself to succeed. Just becuase she has retired from cycling, her mindset and competitiveness has not suddenly stopped.

So what has Victoria Pendleton achieved?
I suspect those who are critics have not stopped to review her CV, impressive doesn’t do it justice. Take a look on Wikipedia. She has won nine world titles including a record six in the individual sprint competition, dominating the event between 2005 and 2012. Pendleton is a former Olympic, European and Commonwealth champion. In 2012 she won the gold medal in the keirin at the 2012 Summer Olympics, as well as silver in the sprint.

The level of physical and mental ability to get to the top of a sport is something very few people can ever achieve. To dominate a sport for years is something few ever do. For a woman to do it is even harder. AP McCoy is exceptional in racing, Pendleton is of the same mould. To then switch to another sport and be a winner is something I would argue very few people would ever take on, never mind achieve.

Human nature is such, if you read the Chimp Paradox you will soon understand, where emotional responses dominate mindset.

The Pendleton detractors are just that because they are more comfortable in going on the attack than looking at themselves and admitting they could learn so much. I find it astonishing that instead of helping her succeed many are openly hoping she fails. The headlines generated by this project can only be good for racing, encourage more people to come racing, or at least take notice. Headlines for the right reasons, for once.

On a wider basis Pendleton could teach professional jockeys, and of course young jockeys, so much. She has been part of a coaching and mindset program that has taken her to the top of a sport and tram GB to world domination. Instead of extrapolating these benefits it has exposed the petty mindset that is the basis of many within racing and to be blunt, its sad to see.

Sometimes the phrase “if you have nothing good to say, say nothing at all” should be practiced. A good friend of mine said the other day when she won, it was all a set up for her to win. I despair, that is the mindset she is up against. If she fails they will say I told you so, if she succeeds, it was all a set up. It is beyond ridiculous. But there is a reason why she is where she is and those people throwing out insults are sat behind their keyboards having achieved nothing, in comparison at least.

I personally hope she wins, one thing I can tell you if it comes down to dedication and a will to win, Pendleton will not be found wanting. I hope she makes many eat their words at Cheltenham.

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