Flying the flag for Coffs
By GREG WHITE
THOUSANDS of miles separate Hong Kong and Brisbane but on racecourses in these cities this weekend, glamour gallopers from Coffs Harbour fly the flag for local racing.
If a blood test clears him Takeover Target races at Sha Tin tomorrow in the G1 Hong Kong Sprint for a winners cheque of $1.14 million and an extra $1.3 million bonus as part of the Global Sprint Challenge.
Back home at Doomben, Natural Destiny will today contest the $200,000 Group 3 Summer Stakes, first leg of the Queensland Triple Crown. To claim the bonus, knockabout trainer Joe Janiak and mate 'Archie' need to win in four countries forming part of the series with three of those victories at Group 1 level.
In an unparalleled season the horse has won in Australia, England and Japan with two victories at the premium blacktype level.
Now, only Hong Kong remains.
After a blood irregularity was discovered on Thursday, Janiak has until race day to have the gelding fit to start.
Race jockey Jay Ford flew into the former British colony on Wednesday and slipped straight onto the gelding's back for a track gallop and surprisingly, said the horse felt in need of another run.
Irrespective of the final outcome Takeover Target will return immediately for a four-month spell in his new Howard Street abode before heading to Melbourne in the autumn. Natural Destiny's domestic engagement may seem more humble than his superstar rival ? until you consider Takeover Target won this race last summer.
With five horses to saddle at yesterday's Coffs Harbour meeting, trainer Gordon Yorke has turned this assignment into a hit-and-run visit.
"He loves to travel and this will be like a drive in the country," Yorke said.
"But this race will be as hard to win as his attempt at the Salinger during the Spring Carnival. It's a hot field and I respect them all."
Asked if he was confident, Yorke laughed: "I'm never confident.
"I haven't had a chance to do the form and we'll see what happens when we get here."
For probably the first time in his career the trainer is giving nothing away regarding tactics, another sign of the huge opinion he has of the ability within his exciting grey.
With speed machines Impaler, Dance the Waves and Starlactic engaged, Yorke was asked if he would advise jockey Shane Treweek to sit off the pace while the cut-throat battle rages up front.
"Shane may do that," he said without giving anything away.
"I like all my horses to race off the lead so they always have something in reserve."
The gelding's future targets are the Doomben Stakes on December 23 followed by the Bernborough Handicap on January 6.