Desert Encounter Surges Late to Take the Canadian International

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9th at WO , $800,000GI Pattison Canadian International S. (1 1/2m)Winner: Desert Encounter (Ire), g, 6 by Halling

Desert Encounter | WEG/Michael Burns

When trainer David Simcock decides to send one or more of his runners based at Trillium Place in Newmarket to Canada, it usually pays to pay attention.

In 2014, the conditioner launched not one, but two successful raids on Woodbine, winning the GI Northern Dancer S. with his likable stayer Sheikhzayedroad (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}) and the GI Ricoh Woodbine Mile on the same program with the reliable Trade Storm (GB) (Trade Fair {GB}). Some five weeks later, Caspar Netscher (GB) (Dutch Art {GB}) continued the streak in the GII Nearctic S. Twelve months later, Sheikhzayedroad ran home gamely to be third in the GI Pattison Canadian International, and Desert Encounter (Ire) (Halling) was the stable’s choice to fly the flag in the 12-furlong feature Saturday afternoon. The results were predictable, even as the tote read 8-1 on the 6-year-old gelding.

With Andrea Atzeni in for the ride, Desert Encounter missed the kick by a good two lengths, but that allowed his rider to cut right down to the inner running rail to save ground as GI United Nations S. winner Funtastic (More Than Ready) led from Tiz a Slam (Tiznow) and a three-deep Bandua (The Factor). The latter–third in the GI Secretariat S., but only fourth as the favorite in the Dueling Grounds Derby last time–went forward to take up the running exiting the hairpin first turn and tried to slow the pace down as positions remained largely unchanged behind. Patiently ridden on the back of favored Thundering Blue (Exchange Rate) down the backstretch and onto the final turn, Desert Encounter looked to be traveling well and full of run as Bandua took them into the straight. Switched off heels, Desert Encounter found clear sailing several paths off the inside, but Thundering Blue was also hitting his best stride and struck to the front with a furlong to travel. The lead was short-lived, however, as Desert Encounter rolled up to join the battle while drifting in a bit at the sixteenth pole, then was straightened away to score convincingly. Focus Group (Kitten’s Joy) made decent progress from last to finish clearly third.

“David Simcock has been here on a few occasions,” Phillip Robinson, racing manager to owner Abdulla Al Mansoori explained. “He loves it. I think he’s had this race in mind for a long time for this horse. He said that this is the race for him. And he set out his program throughout the whole season to [prepare] him to come here. It worked out. He got it dead right.”

Beaten only 4 1/2 lengths into third by the classy Poet’s Word (Ire) (Poet’s Voice {GB}) in the G3 Brigadier Gerard S. at Sandown in May, Desert Encounter was beaten a pole to that rival when sixth in the G1 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Diamond S. at Ascot in July. He was snapping a six-race skid when landing the Listed August S. at Windsor Aug. 25 and was exiting a close third in the G3 Legacy Cup at Newbury Sept. 22.

Pedigree Notes:

Desert Encounter was purchased in utero by Tally-Ho Stud for 48,000gns (about $81,000) from Darley at the 2011 Tattersalls July Sale and is out of a full-sister to GSW Allied Powers (Ire) and a half-sister to Italian GSW & G1SP Dane Friendly (GB) (Danehill). These same connections campaign Desert Encounter’s 2-year-old half-brother Desert Land (Ire) (Kodiac {GB}), a 150,000gns acquisition out of the 2017 Tattersalls October sale and a debut fourth at Yarmouth Sept. 19. La Chicana is the dam of a yearling filly by Slade Power (Ire) and a weanling filly by Vadamos (Fr).

Saturday, Woodbine
PATTISON CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL S.-GI, C$812,600, Woodbine, 10-13, 3yo/up, 1 1/2mT, 2:28.88, gd.
1–DESERT ENCOUNTER (IRE), 126, g, 6, by Halling
1st Dam: La Chicana (Ire), by Invincible Spirit (Ire)
2nd Dam: Always Friendly (GB), by High Line (GB)
3rd Dam: Wise Speculation, by Mr. Prospector
1ST GRADE I WIN. (32,000gns Ylg ’13 TAOCT). O-Abdulla Al
Mansoori; B-Tally Ho Stud (IRE); T-David Simcock; J-Andrea
Atzeni. C$480,000. Lifetime Record: GISW-Can, GSW & G1SP-
GB, 23-8-4-5, $757,333. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree. Werk Nick Rating: A.
2–Thundering Blue, 126, g, 5, Exchange Rate–Relampago Azul,
by Forestry. ($175,000 Ylg ’14 KEESEP; 190,000gns 2yo ’15
TATBRE). O-Clive Washbourn; B-Tom Castoldi (KY); T-David
Menuisier. C$160,000.3–Focus Group, 126, c, 4, Kitten’s Joy–Cocktail Hour, by
Dynaformer. ($140,000 Ylg ’15 KEESEP). O-Klaravich Stables,
Inc. & Lawrence, William H.; B-Dixiana Farms LLC (KY); T-Chad
C. Brown. C$80,000.Margins: 1, 4HF, 1 1/4. Odds: 8.10, 3.05, 4.05.
Also Ran: Tiz a Slam, Spring Quality, Markitoff, Johnny Bear, Bandua, English Illusion, Khan (Ger), Funtastic.
Click for the Equibase.com chart, the TJCIS.com PPs or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.

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