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International insights - Laura King previews the four Group Ones at Woodbine this weekend

Woodbine races.

International racing expert, Laura King previews the four Group Ones at Woodbine this weekend, including the lucrative Woodbine Mile.


There is a huge weekend ahead in Canada, where Woodbine stages four Grade 1s, split between Saturday and Sunday.  The Woodbine Mile takes place on Saturday and features a cast of 11 including the favourite Got Stormy. She represents trainer Mark Casse, who won two of last three runnings of this, including in 2016 with subsequent Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Tepin. 

He has mentioned this filly as being as talented as that great mare is noteworthy, and the daughter of Get Stormy (6/4 Mr Green) did well to recover from just a week’s layoff when winning the Grade 1 Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga last month. She beat the re-opposing Raging Bull on that occasion, when receiving 6lb, and is taken to do so again here, despite carrying level weights with that rival. 

The main opposition may well come from a pair of Grade 2 winners. Michael Stidham’s Synchrony won the King Edward Stakes over course and distance back in June, while Silent Poet steps up a furlong in trip after winning the Play The King Stakes, also at Woodbine.

The sole European runner in the field is the William Haggas-trained Awesometank, who makes her second North American start after finishing a good second to Sistercharlie in the G1 Beverly  D Stakes at Arlington. A game frontrunner, she receives 3lb from all her rivals (seven from Got Stormy) and could be hard to pass if jockey John Egan is allowed easy fractions up front.

Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby saw his on-course favourite Hawkbill beaten by Johnny Bear in the last two editions of the Grade 1 Northern Dancer Turf. He returns last year with perhaps a stronger contender, Old Persian, who won Dubai’s G1 Sheema Classic in March. Disappointing when only third behind the improving French King in the G1 Grosser Preis Von Berlin in Germany last time, he might have needed that outing and should be fitter here. 

Even if he isn’t, he faces only five rivals in what looks a weak affair on paper. Roger Attfield’s Tiz A Slam has a second try here, having finished sixth last year, and arrives in great form, having won his last three, including the Grade 2 Nijinsky Stakes. He has home advantage and can’t be discounted, while Chad Brown sends Focus Group up from New York. Only eighth in the Grade 2 Bowling Green Stakes at Saratoga, he will need a return to his best to feature in a race which looks at the mercy of Old Persian. 

The card also features the Grade 2 Canadian Stakes, in which Haggas sends out The Queen’s Magnetic Charm. She has drawn three in a field of seven but will face tough opposition from Brown’s Grade 1 winner Competitionof ideas and Holy Helena who won the Grade 2 Dance Smartly Stakes here in June and is using this as a prep before the G1 EP Taylor Stakes next month.

Woodbine also hosts two Grade 1s on Sunday. The Mark Johnston-trained Walk In Marrakesh takes her chance in the Natalma Stakes, for two-year-old fillies, alongside the ex-Richard Fahey-trained Diamond Sparkles who will remain in North America after the race having joined Casse.

The other feature is the Grade 1 Summer Stakes, for two-year-old colts, in which Joseph O’Brien saddles the smart Vitalogy, who finished fourth in the G3 Acomb Stakes at York on his most recent start. 

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International insights - Laura King previews the four Group Ones at Woodbine this weekend

International racing expert, Laura King previews the four Group Ones at Woodbine this weekend, including the lucrative Woodbine Mile.

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