Desert Encounter swoops to beat Thundering Blue in Canada

Desert Encounter wins at Ascot
Desert Encounter wins at Ascot

Desert Encounter wore down Thundering Blue to claim victory in a British-dominated finish to the Pattison Canadian International.

Winner of the York Stakes before finishing third behind Roaring Lion in the Juddmonte International, Thundering Blue was last seen landing the Group Three Stockholm Cup at Bro Park in Sweden.

With Fran Berry again on his back, the popular grey was favourite to provide Sussex-based French-born trainer David Menuisier with a first top-level success at Woodbine and after travelling strongly he moved to the front in the straight.

However, the David Simcock-trained Desert Encounter, ridden patiently by Andrea Atzeni, came from further back to throw down his challenge and got up to score in the closing stages.

The pair came close together crossing the line, but the placings remained unaltered.

Atzeni told TSN: "That's great. I've been coming here for so many years and I've never had a lot of luck really.

"It's great to win the race. It's a very important race and it's great to do it for David Simcock, who has supported me since I was a kid. He's a horse that needs to be ridden cold. You can't put him in the race too early.

"I followed Thundering Blue, I thought he was the horse to beat, and when I pulled him (Desert Encounter) out and he won quite cosily."

Former jockey Philip Robinson, representing winning owner Abdulla Al Mansoori, said: "It's fantastic to win after coming all this way.

"David prepared him fantastically well for this race, Andrea rode him really well and the horse picked up tremendously. I would imagine the owner will want to go to Dubai."

Atzeni went on to complete a big-race double aboard Roger Varian's Sheikha Reika in the E.P.Taylor Stakes.

An impressive winner of a Listed race at Yarmouth last month, the daughter of Shamardal took the step up to Grade One level in her stride, lunging late to secure victory.

Varian told his website: "Sheikha Reika has thrived for the step up in trip and she's really beginning to show us on the track what she does at home now.

"I thought Andrea gave her a beautifully-composed ride and I am delighted for Sheikh Mohammed Obaid, who has shown great patience with the filly.

"This was a brilliant result all round."


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