Joe loves his mate Archie
By GREG WHITE
NOT only is 'Archie' a cartoon character he's also a racehorse - and a champion one at that.
Most people know him as Takeover Target but to his trainer Joe Janiak and jockey Jay Ford, he's just 'Archie'.
"We kill him with kindness," the laidback Janiak revealed on Coffs Harbour Gold Cup day.
"He was a bit of a mongrel when he first came into the stable but with all the care and attention he soon settled down till now, he follows me around like a puppy."
There are similarities to that other great Coffs Harbour racing man, Mal Gerrard, and his champ Mr Innocent, always known around the track as 'Harry'.
"I've heard how Mal and his horse got on like a house on fire and my bloke is just the same," Janiak said.
"Care for them and they pay the kindness back tenfold."
Or is that millionfold, for a horse famously bought for $1250 who's now returned a seven-figure sum to Janiak and his sons?
It's that understanding with animals that saw Janiak drop a bombshell last week about Archie's racing future.
After flying in from Brussels accompanied by son Scott, Janiak attended Melbourne's horse of the year dinner before catching an early flight to their new home city.
Takeover Target missed out on the top award (won in a landslide by Makybe Diva) but picked up best sprinterand champion international competitor.'
With his fragile legs continually under scrutiny the trainer maintains he'd rather find a retirement paddock somewhere for his mate than risk a single hair in his mane.
"The horse is getting ready for the Global Series race in Japan, then he'll come straight back to the new stable in Coffs," he told the Coffs Coast Advocate.
"Trying to find the right race for him in Australia becomes a big problem.
"He can't be put in handicaps as he'll get too much weight - he has to become a weight-for-age horse which has its limitations.
"If we can't find the right program I won't risk him and wouldn't have any problem sending him into retirement without another start."
The horse comes first and the money he can make finishes a distant second.
The Racing Club have seized an initiative naming the covered area under the grandstand the 'Takeover Bar' and with Janiak's stable complex now completed, his team will be in permanent residence no later than January at the best equine address in town.
"We're on the lookout for raw material to fill vacancies in the stables," he laughed.
"Anyone who'd like us to train their horses should get in touch with the race club and I'll get back to them soon as possible."
Rubbing shoulders with Archie and his mates, no less.