Josephine Gordon looks to have the Stobart Champion Apprentice title all but sewn up, sitting four winners clear of her nearest rival Tom Marquand, ahead of the Championship conclusion on Saturday 15th October.
With Marquand unable to add to his tally for the final six days due to a licence switch, Gordon is likely to be confirmed Stobart Champion Apprentice on Monday 10th October and become just the third female jockey to win the Apprentice title.
Gordon has not had it all her own way during her career, with the 23-year-old having to wait 18 months between her first and second career winners. But a resurgence in her fortunes this year has seen her about to achieve an ambition – winning the Stobart Champion Apprentice title – that not long ago seemed almost unimaginable.
“I’ve just tried to keep my head down and not think too much about it,” says Gordon. “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 [Marquand] 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.
Reid saying of his pupil: “I think she’s ridden exceptionally well all year; 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 [in their career] and long may it continue.”