TORONTO, October 13, 2018 – Desert Encounter and jockey Andrea Atzeni won the 81st running of the $800,000 Pattison Canadian International contested over Woodbine’s world-renowned E.P. Taylor Turf Course on Saturday. The six-year-old Halling gelding is trained by David Simcock and owned by Abdulla Al Mansoori.
Top three order of finish: Desert Encounter-Thundering Blue-Focus Group
Final time: 2:28.88
Andrea Atzeni, jockey of winner Desert Encounter:
“He travelled good into the race and I followed the favourite all the way through, Thundering Blue. I thought he was the one to beat and he’s a horse that’s got such a high cruising speed and then when he saw me, he actually got a very good turn of foot as well. You can’t get to the front too soon because once he gets to the front, he thinks he’s had enough, but he’s a horse that has a lot of ability and it’s great for the team at home, great for David and the owner and everybody involved.”
Philip Robinson, racing manager of Desert Encounter:
“He got a great ride, saved ground all the way around, pulled out when he needed to. I thought the horse was going to run second, but he pulled it out. The other English horse had quickened up well, and I thought, ‘Well, he’s gone and won the race, we’re going to run second,’ but the he found another gear in the last two hundred and it was all over.”
“Hong Kong or Japan. We’re not sure yet. You don’t make plans like that until after today.”
WHAT WAS YOUR FEELING COMING INTO THE RACE?
“His form has been really good. His last run he was very unlucky; it went really soft and his jockey didn’t do anything wrong, but he just got there in that ground and the horse took him there too soon, and he hit the front a hundred yards from the post and he just died right on the line and the other two just came and got him, so he was a little bit unfortunate. This is better ground today and he loved it.”
TELL US OF THE DECISION TO COME HERE.
“I think David Simcock has been here, the trainer, on a few occasions and loves it, and I think he’s had this race in mind for a long time for this horse. He always said this is the race for him and he set out his program for him throughout the whole season with this aim, to come here, and it’s worked out, so he’s got it dead right.”
ANY CONCERNS WITH THE CONDITIONS COMING INTO THE RACE?
“No, the ground was perfect – not too firm. You had a bit of rain prior, and it just made it good ground. It looked like great ground to me, and horses don’t quicken up like that if it’s not good ground. No concerns, and it all turned out well.”
Fran Berry, jockey of second-place finisher Thundering Blue:
“I had a great trip. It didn’t go quite as quickly as I had envisioned through the first two turns. It was quite steadily run until we turned to the backstretch, then the race got going, but I was always comfortable. I knew I had a good bit of horse and I was prepared to stay in and ride the rail until we got into the stretch. When I picked it up we got a perfect split right at the right time. That’s when I said, ‘It’s game over, I’m going to win here,’ but I couldn’t believe [Desert Encounter] joined us as quickly as he did and then went by us.”
“My horse raced well, but [Desert Encounter] just had a kick that surprised me.”
*Additional quotes will be added here when available.