Gordon whips up an Ascot storm
Josephine Gordon admirably demonstrated the skills that saw her crowned champion apprentice last term as she delivered favourite Fastnet Tempest with a perfectly-timed run to win the totescoop6 Victoria Cup at Ascot.
William Haggas' four-year-old was sent off the 5-1 market leader for the seven-furlong charge after running a fine race in defeat at Newbury, and after finding little when hitting the front that day, Gordon was at pains to delay her mount's run until the last possible moment.
Zhui Feng led them a merry dance for much of the distance but after switching for a run heading into the final furlong, Fastnet Tempest kicked up a gear and fended off the challenge of George William by three-quarters of a length. Zhui Feng was third and Shady McCoy fourth.
Gordon said: "I felt when I got to the furlong pole that I might have gone too soon, but he settled into a nice rhythm and it was a bit of a funny race, to be honest.
"I think the horse probably wants as much cover as possible and to be produced late. When I was sat in the stalls, I thought we would be splitting or coming up the middle, I wasn't really expecting to come stands side.
"He (had a little look) as he hit the front, he's just slightly gone left but nothing drastic. I think the cheekpieces today have helped, just to make him concentrate.
"I think he will (progress), I think he's better than that and he's a very nice horse."
Gordon was thrilled to land the £65,362 first prize in her first season as full jockey, telling ITV Racing: "It's huge. I never expected to be getting big rides like this, but at the moment I will take it with both hands and enjoy every experience as it comes.
"This year is going to be exciting."
Desert Encounter (8-1) came with a fantastic late flourish to claim Listed glory in the Carey Group Buckhounds Stakes.
Sean Levey was sitting at the back of the pack through the early stages as Muntazha set what seemed to be just a steady pace up front and he was still at the head of affairs with a couple of furlongs to run.
Favourite UAE Prince was sitting on his outside waiting to challenge, but when push came to shove, he found little for pressure as Desert Encounter, in contrast, was staying on strongly up the far rail.
As it got a bit tight for room up the middle of the track, the David Simcock-trained Desert Encounter made the most of the clear space ahead to win by from Star Storm with Restorer back in third.
Levey said: "I went into the race without knowing an awful lot about him, only what everyone else was saying. I spoke to Martin (Harley) and Jamie Spencer who rode him before and they said he was a really nice handicapper and would be a nice horse.
"I spoke to Mr Simcock who said to keep things simple and it just really panned out for him today.
"I was always happy with where I was, he was settled and travelling well in my hands. He's shown a great turn of foot.
"He's won a Listed race today and it's onwards and upwards from here."
Tom Queally, rider of Star Storm, was banned for three days (May 27, 29 and 30) after being found at fault for the scrimmaging in the centre of the track.
Appeared justified his 9-4 favourite tag as he scored a comfortable four-and-a-half-length success in the Rosling King Handicap.
The five-year-old won two of his five starts last term but had finished on a slightly disappointing note as he found Frontiersman five lengths too good on his final outing in a Newmarket handicap.
Gelded over the winter, Appeared made no such mistake here as he arrived full of running for Andrea Atzeni before kicking clear in the final furlong.
Varian said: "He's obviously progressed again and it was a nice performance."
Atzeni added: "He looked well in the paddock and he won very easily. Hopefully he will get even better through the year – he could be anything.
"I think he can build on that."
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