Vafortino victorious for Philippart De Foy in Victoria Cup

Vafortino gave Kevin Philippart De Foy his biggest victory in the training ranks when the four-year-old held off the evergreen Accidental Agent to land the tote Victoria Cup at Ascot.

The son of New Bay was ideally positioned throughout the valuable seven-furlong contest, tracking the pace on the stands rail in the hands of Benoit De La Sayette and his younger legs came to the fore when the sprint to the finish ensued.

He was half a length clear of Eve Johnson Houghton’s former Queen Anne Stakes victor at the winning post, with last year’s Victoria Cup winner River Nymph back in third.

Prior to the meeting, the Belgium-born handler had only saddled one runner at the Berkshire track, but Vafortino’s victory made it a double on the day for Philippart De Foy having also tasted success with Juan De Montalban earlier on the card.

The four-year-old was making just his second start for his trainer, who was delighted the gamble when purchasing the 28,000 guineas buy last autumn has paid off.

“We took a punt when we bought him, we just gelded him and put him in the field and forgot about him for a while,” he explained.

“We brought him back slowly, we knew he would come on from that run at Newcastle a few weeks ago. It was a pleasing first run, the form was quite good and Bless Him has gone on to run well since. But we knew he would be better on grass than all-weather. We kept him fresh and got the job done.

“We will give him a bit of time and come up with a plan, we won’t think of anything yet, we’ll rest and enjoy today.”

For the winning jockey, it was a welcome return to the spotlight for the right reasons having missed the majority of last season serving a drug-related suspension.

Having burst onto the scene when guiding Haqeeqy to success in the Lincoln, this was easily the biggest win of his career since as he turned his first ride at Ascot into a winning one.

Doncaster Races – March 27th
Benoit de la Sayette winning the The Unibet Lincoln on Haqeeqy in 2021 (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“Days like this are all you dream for. To have another crack at a handicap like the Lincoln last year, it’s just a dream come true to do it again. My boss (John Gosden) has been amazing to me during the time off, and also everyone back at the yard making sure that I can learn more and more and helping me out,” said De La Sayette.

“What a horse, big heart, tried his heart out – you can’t really ask for any more than that, can you? I was trying my hardest to the line but once he had his head in front I knew he was going to do it.

“He travelled beautifully through the race, he broke well, I managed to slot him in. I went to go through the gears and he just got his nose in front and kept it there until the line. It can be anyone’s race really, depending on where the pace comes from, luckily the pace was on the stand rail today which gave me some help. I had someone to battle with to the line.”

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