Subtle Knife and Josephine Gordon after winning The EBF Stallions Breeding Winners Fillies' Handicap Stakes at Leicester in July
JOSEPHINE Gordon looks to have the Stobart Champion Apprentice title all but sewn up as she sits four winners clear of her nearest rival Tom Marquand a week ahead of the championship climax on Saturday, October 15.
But with Marquand unable to add to his tally for the final six days of the season due to a licence switch, Gordon is likely to be confirmed as champion apprentice on Monday and become only the third female jockey to win the title.
She has not had it all her own way during her career, the 23-year-old having to wait 18 months between her first and second career winners. But a resurgence in her fortunes has seen her about to achieve an ambition that not long ago seemed almost unimaginable.
“I’ve just tried to keep my head down and not think too much about it,” she said. “Of course, I’ve had the table at the back of my mind, but you can’t get too far ahead of yourself. It’s not long ago that Tom had a good lead and I didn’t think I could do it, but it’s gone brilliantly in the last few weeks.”
The jockey regards riding a winner for Sir Michael Stoute as one of the highlights of the year, but it is for another Newmarket trainer Hugo Palmer that she landed the biggest success of her career, taking the Mallard Handicap at the St Leger Festival aboard Wall Of Fire. Gordon also received her first call up to the Shergar Cup this year, of which she said: “Riding at the Shergar Cup was a fantastic experience, but there have been lots of highlights this year and I’m just grateful for all of the support I have had.”
Gordon is based with trainer Stan Moore in Lambourn, and credits him along with her agent, Phil Shea, her mother as well as her Derby-winning jockey coach John Reid as having played an integral role in her development.
“I think she’s ridden exceptionally well all year,” said Reid, “that bears out in the people who are using Josephine, with a lot of the top trainers booking her to ride.
“She always was a good race rider – she’s extremely good at getting the horses out of the gates and getting them running which is a huge bonus for any rider. At the beginning I had a lot more to do with her in the learning stage of her career when she was trying to get her strength and balance together, but once she did, she just improved from there and got better and better at her job. That led to her getting more rides and over the last 12 months she’s developed into a very good rider.
“You only have to look at her most recent win at Ascot for William Haggas to see how confident she is in herself. The pace was strong in the race, but she sat, didn’t panic, waited and gradually picked up and bang she got there on the line - beating Ryan Moore. It was a very polished ride, it’s something that you look for a rider that they have got to that stage and long may it continue.