Desert Encounter
Image reproduced with the kind permission of Newmarket Racecourse

Desert Encounter finished with a flourish to head the gallant grey Thundering Blue, as British horses dominated the Grade One Pattison Canadian International Stakes at Woodbine.

Eleven contested this 1 ½ mile race on firm ground.

Funtastic and Tiz A Slam broke well, with the pair taking the field along.

But Bandua went on as the field approached the back straight, with Funtastic and Tiz A Slam next and then Johnny Bear and Markitoff.

Heading to the top bend, Bandua still led Tiz A Slam and Johnny Bear, while Thundering Blue was behind a wall of horses on the inside.

Turning for home, Bandua still had the lead from Tiz A Dream, with Spring Quality and Johnny Bear.

But Thundering Blue got the split when he needed it to hit the front. However, Andrea Atzeni and Desert Counter came bursting out of the pack and stormed past Thundering Blue in the final furlong, to win by about a length, with a wide gap back to Focus Group and Tiz A Slam.

The David Simcock trained six year-old, Desert Encounter, landed a Listed race at Windsor in August, before finishing ½ a length third to Young Rascal at Newbury.

Hembree snatches victory in the Nearctic Stakes

Earlier on the card, Hembree left it late but was a narrow winner of the Grade Two Nearctic Stakes.

A field of eleven lined-up for this six-furlong dash.

At the break it was Yorkton who went on, with Bushrod and Hemp Hemp Hurray also prominent.

Yorkton was 1 ½ lengths clear at the top bend with Lady Alexandra giving chase.

Lady Alexandra came to challenge in the home stretch, but Yorkton found more for Jessie Campbell.

However, in the dying strides, Hemp Hemp Hurray came to challenge to the inside, with Hembree and Irad Ortiz Jr. coming late on the outside.

In a desperate three-way finish, Hembree got up to agonisingly foil Yorkton’s brave bid, he could only finish third.