Trainer David Simcock, who won the 2014 edition of the Woodbine Mile, goes after a different Grade 1 trophy at the Toronto oval, this time with Desert Encounter in the Pattison Canadian International.
Four years ago, Simcock watched Trade Storm take top honours in the turf Mile at Woodbine. His day proved to be twice as nice when another trainee, Sheikhzayedroad, won the Grade 1 Northern Dancer Turf, earlier in the card.
On Saturday, his fortunes lie on the hooves of Desert Encounter, a seven-time winner that will make his first-ever start on Canadian turf.
Owned by Abudalla Al Mansoori, the Irish-bred has one win, a second and a third in three of his past four starts, as he sets course towards the International.
In 22 lifetime races, the six-year-old Halling gelding has seven wins, four seconds and five thirds. This season, he has one win, a second and a pair of thirds from seven starts.
“All his life, he has been a consistent horse,” said Simcock. “He was a late developer and only had two runs at two and he was lightly raced at three.”
This August, the Tally-Ho Stud-bred bay won the Sri Lanka August Stakes at Windsor, a 1 ¾-length victor in the 1 7/16-mile race. In his most recent start, Desert Encounter was third, but only a half-length out of first, in the Grade 3 Dubai Duty Free Legacy Cup at Newbury on September 22. One year earlier, he won the race, a neck ahead of Second Step in the 1 3/8-mile event.
“He has run some good races in the right grade, had a couple of tough assignments early in the season,” said Simcock. “He has run two very good races in his last two starts.”
Simcock sees the E.P. Taylor Turf Course as a perfect match for Desert Encounter.
“Woodbine is a flat, fair track and similar to European style courses, which is obviously a benefit for us,” he offered. “Desert Encounter is a kind horse. He is very straightforward to deal with.”
Jockey Andrea Atzeni will be in the irons for the International, as Desert Encounter looks to become the first six-year-old to win the race since Joshua Tree accomplished the feat in 2013.
New to the Paulick Report? Click here to sign up for our daily email newsletter to keep up on this and other stories happening in the Thoroughbred industry.
Copyright © 2019 Paulick Report.