Champion apprentice strikes at Ascot

Josephine Gordon rode the strongly-fancied Fastnet Tempest to success in the day's feature handicap, the totescoop6 Victoria Cup

Ascot’s fiercely competitive first big handicap of the season, the totescoop6 Victoria Cup, went the way of the William Haggas-trained Fastnet Tempest ridden by one of last season’s shining lights Josephine Gordon.

Gordon’s fine start to the Flat season continues

Backed into the favouritism and facing 23 rivals, Fastnet Tempest was held up in midfield early on with Zhui Feng taking the overall lead nearest to the stands.

As the action unfolded towards the stands rail inside the three furlong pole, Gordon began to make progress on her mount in behind runners.

The duo got a split just over a furlong out and got to the front. The four-year-old found enough in the run to the line to hold off the fast-finishing George William by three quarters of a length.

For Gordon, this registers as one of the biggest wins of her career to date.

Her red-hot form from last season, which saw her clinch the apprentice title with 50 wins, looks to have carried over to this year in no uncertain terms.

“He’s actually probably won quite easily really,” reflected Gordon. “He has got a bit of a mind of his own. At Newbury he hit the front too soon and pulled up a bit.

“If anything I half thought I might of gone too soon here but had to commit once the gaps had come.”

A son of champion Australian sprinter Fastnet Rock, the gelding showed a great deal of promise on his seasonal comeback when finishing a close third in last month’s Spring Cup.

He has got a bit of a mind of his own

Earlier in the afternoon, the David Simcock-trained Desert Encounter came from nearly last to first in the Listed Carey Group Buckhounds Stakes over a mile and a half.

Ridden confidently by Sean Levey, the five-year-old accelerated to the front after being switched to the far side just under two furlongs out.

He kept on nicely to win by just under three lengths from James Fanshawe’s Star Storm.

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