Drug test costs Janiak, Takeover Target $2.7m
By GREG WHITE
THE racing dreams of Joe Janiak shattered at 3.32pm ADST yesterday when Takeover Target was scratched from the Group One Hong Kong Sprint at Sha Tin.
In the space of six days, the fairytale story of the knockabout trainer and his unlikely champion has turned into a nightmare, after a routine blood sample revealed medication given to the horse prior to leaving Japan seven weeks ago was still in his system.
The racing industry thrives on rumour but no more so than in Hong Kong where the industry is notorious for blending fact, fiction and superstition.
On Tuesday, stories emerged that all was not well with Takeover Target, something Janiak strongly denied.
But the noises continued, especially when jockey Jay Ford remarked he felt the horse was "in need of another run" after riding in a track gallop.
By Thursday, the bad news was confirmed when Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club chief steward Jamie Stier announced the horse would need to provide a clear sample before being allowed to race.
A final swab was taken at 7am (HK time) yesterday but enough doubt remained to force the horse's official scratching.
At Coffs Harbour races on Friday, well before the dramatic announcement was made, Janiak's fellow trainers were tipping the inevitable while stressing their empathy.
"I believe Joe has been given bad advice by the vets," one trainer remarked.
"They said the stuff would be out of his system in plenty of time but that's not how it works. Trying to tell him it was trapped in a muscle or in a blood clot was only protecting themselves and he's going to suffer."
Without racing, Janiak, Ford and Takeover Target not only miss out on potential winnings of $1.3 million but also a $1.4 million bonus connected with the Global Sprint Challenge.
By delaying the scratching time till after acceptances, Janiak now faces a nervous wait to find if RHKJC stewards intend to charge him over the matter.
He may also be liable to repay $A50,000 in travel and accomodation subsidies.
Meanwhile, Coffs Harbours 'other star', Natural Destiny, blitzed his rivals in the G3 Summer Stakes at Doomben on Saturday.
An aggressive Shane Treweek ride from the outside gate had the grey challenging for the lead before he charged away on straightening.
"You'll never know if you don't have a go," his jubilant trainer Gordon Yorke said.