Nations Pride Rallies To Take G1 Canadian International

October 8, 2023

Nations Pride and William Buick capture the Canadian International (Michael Burns)

By Chris Lomon – Woodbine Communications

TORONTO— Nations Pride (IRE), sent off as the overwhelming 2-5 choice, reeled in a game Royal Champion (IRE) to win Saturday’s 84th running of the $750,000 Canadian International (G1T) at Woodbine.  

Royal Champion, under James Doyle, broke swiftly from the outside post eight and glided to the front to seize control of the 1 ¼-mile event for 3-year-olds and upward. Nations Pride, with William Buick in the irons, emerged in second spot into the first turn after leaving a step slowly, followed by longshot duo Starting Over and English Conqueror. 

Reaching the opening panel in :25.42 over a “yielding” E.P. Taylor turf, Royal Champion was three lengths clear of multiple Group/Grade 1 winner Nations Pride, and then extended that advantage to 3 ½ lengths through a half in :50.07. 

Royal Champion, who had won the Wolferton Stakes in July at York, continued to canter along on the front end as Buick kept the pacesetter in range into the turn for home. A game Royal Champion then dug in along the rail, but Nations Pride was unrelenting in pursuit. 

A length behind his rival at the stretch call, Nations Pride rallied smartly to record a 2 ¼-length score in a time of 2:03.65. Royal Champion was second, 7 ¼ lengths ahead of third-place finisher Adhamo (IRE). Palazzi was fourth.

English Conqueror, Starting Over, British Royalty and Dynadrive completed the order of finish. 

Nations Pride, a 4-year-old son of Teofilo (IRE)-Important Time (IRE), whose racing passport includes races in United Arab Emirates, England, and the U.S., was making his first start in Canada.

Buick and the Canadian International trophy (Michael Burns)

“I’ve ridden in the Canadian International a few times before and I’ve been placed a few times so it’s great to win it,” said Buick. “I knew with Nations Pride I had a pretty good horse so it’s just about getting everything right. The track was a bit of a concern, the yielding surface, but he really showed how versatile he is and he’s a high-class horse.”  

It was the second straight International crown for owner-breeder Godolphin and trainer Charlie Appleby. In 2021 (the race was paused in 2022 due to travel issues prompted the worldwide pandemic), they sent out Walton Street (GB) (bred by Darley) to victory.   

Nations Pride came into the International off a victory in the Grosser Dallmayr-Preis – Bayerisches Zuchtrennen (G1T) in Munich on July 30.   

“The concerns going out was the ground changing to yielding,” said Appleby, in the winner’s circle. “To be fair, in Germany, it was probably on the slower side, but we thought the change might be positive. “James [jockey, Doyle] on the lead horse there, he knows his fractions. If there was one person I wouldn’t have been quite so comfortable with, it was James on the front end. He’s dangerous out there. Turning in, I thought he’s got us. To be fair to William, he had confidence in the horse. The ground unfortunately turning to yielding just took his finishing speed off him. William said his class got him through in the end. 

“From the horse point of view, we thought the conditions were there to suit him, until the rain came,” continued Appleby. “We seem to have been following the rain the last couple of weeks. It’s a lovely long stretch and something we knew he’d enjoy.”   

The next engagement for Nations Pride appears to be the $1 million Bahrain Trophy (G2T) on November 17, at 1 ¼ miles. 

“We’ll stick with plan A,” said Appleby. “We won’t go to the Breeders’ Cup. We don’t think he stretches out that mile and a half, so we’ll take him to Bahrain, and then contemplate if Hong Kong might suit him. But our immediate target will be the Bahrain Trophy.”  

With the victory, Nations Pride is now 9-2-1 from 14 starts. 

He paid $2.80 for the win. 

@jonathanstettin  Morning Jonathan, I just read your Piece on its not a Santa Anita thing IT WAS OUTSTANDING. I have been playing horses for 42 yrs since my father 1st brought me to Washington Park. I could not agree with you more. There must be 1 governing board and a commissioner.

Big Boy R @vatsanman View testimonials