Takeover Target has a date with royalty
By GREG WHITE
OVER the next six months, Coffs Harbour's sprint sensation Takeover Target will attempt to establish the name of his adopted city on the world racing map.
Fresh from his amazing victory in the $500,000 Group 1 Lightning Stakes (1000m) at Flemington on Saturday, owner-trainer Joe Janiak has announced an ambitious program that takes in two more southern races before a mid-year excursion to Royal Ascot.
"He pulled up well and could have gone around again on Sunday," Janiak said from his temporary Melbourne base.
"Next start is the Australia Stakes at Moonee Valley in two weeks before a run in the Newmarket at Flemington.
"Then it's home to Coffs for a short break in the middle of March."
While plenty of superlatives have showered over Takeover Target during his spectacular career, Janiak described Saturday's win as close to the horse's best.
There were suggestions pre-race the distance may be too short at this stage of the horse's preparation but the knockers were answered in devastating fashion.
"Jay (jockey Jay Ford) gave him a little kick up and he had no problem leading," the trainer said.
"The others kept coming at him in the straight but the old bloke kept fighting them off.
"He never knows when to give in."
According to Janiak, how the race was run revealed a facet of Takeover Target's character common to all exceptional racehorses.
"Even on the training track I have to tell his rider to be careful of horse's coming up behind him," he said.
"He's so competitive, he doesn't like other horses getting past him and he's prone to speed up.
"All the good one's have that superior will to win."
Some time in April, Janiak and his champion will jet off to England for the King's Stand Stakes and Golden Jubilee Stakes, racing before the Queen at the Royal Ascot meeting.
Those two races are the same won by Paul Perry's sprinter, Choisir, in 2004.
"Paul was at Flemington and has offered his advice and services for the trip to England," Janiak said.
"I asked him how my horse compared to his and he told me mine was a better chance.
"With that sort of confidence from someone who's been there before, how could we not go?"
Potential opponents for Takeover Target in the UK include Hong Kong speedster Cape of Good Hope, who finished third in the Lightning on Saturday, and also from the former British colony, Silent Witness, the world's best short-course racer.
Ironically, Silent Witness also has a local connection being bred at Mondrook in the Manning Valley before being sold to Asian interests.
But the accolades collected by Janiak and Takeover Target was not the only good news local racing story from the weekend.
Earlier on Saturday, Gordon Yorke's rising star Natural Destiny won the opening race at Randwick, his fifth victory from six career starts.
Following the race, Yorke confirmed the Group 2 Royal Sovereign Stakes in a fortnight will be the horse's introduction to the elite level of competition.