Impressive Target

COFFS Harbour's superstar sprinter Takeover Target is impressing everyone this week as he prepares for next week's King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Trainer Joe Janiak is anticipating another good show from Takeover Target as his veteran globetrotter returns to Berkshire for the third successive year and he's not afraid to let anybody know.

Winner of the KrisFlyer International Sprint in Singapore last time, Janiak reports the nine-year-old to be better than ever this term.

"I am very happy with him, his work has been good and the track rider reckons he's bigger and better than last year I hope he's right," Janiak told Racing Post.

"If he can repeat what he did in Singapore, he's got a good chance. He has lost a bit of early pace so I'm not sure the King's Stand is ideal but he has to have a big chance in the Golden Jubilee."

Fellow Aussie sprinter Magnus was beaten half a length in the KrisFlyer and is also a veteran at Royal Ascot, finishing third in the King's Stand and 14th in the Jubilee last season but will just make the former this year.

Nagnus's trainer Peter Moody explained: "We only have one bite of the cherry as he goes into quarantine straight after the King's Stand for stud duties.

"Last year I think I had him undercooked for the first race and maybe overdone for the second.

"He had a hard run in Singapore on a humid night, which took its toll.

"When he arrived here he was four to five kilos heavier but he galloped strongly yesterday and will do a bit more fast work on Friday or Saturday morning to put him just right."

Favourite for the race is Jeremy Noseda's three-year-old filly Fleeting Spirit after her stunning performance in the Temple Stakes at Haydock.

"I spent all winter worrying about whether it was a good move to keep her but she started working in April and I got the feeling she had trained on," Noseda said.

"It's a hard call to run a three-year-old sprinter against older horses and it takes an exceptional one to beat them.

"I hoped she would win the way she did at Haydock but the King's Stand is the acid test."

Fleeting Spirit appears among 17 confirmations for the Group One race and is one of five three-year-olds along with Captain Gerrard, Spanish raider Equiano, Georgebernardshaw and Nunthorpe winner Kingsgate Native.

The South African-trained National Colour adds further flavour to a fascinating contest.

Both Janiak and Moody have been involved in a war of words this week over drug use and the subject is threatening to overshadow the build up to Royal Ascot, after the pair ridiculed Middleham trainer Mark Johnston for his stance on the use of anabolic steroids.

Peter Moody questioned Johnston's competence as a veterinary surgeon and accused him of "talking out of his backside" for the suggestion that 2006 King's Stand Stakes winner Takeover Target should not have been invited back to Ascot after failing a drug test in Hong Kong later that year.

Takeover Target may have an unfair advantage due to the lasting effects of steroid use, Johnston told Racing Post.

Adding to the furore, Takeover Target's trainer Joe Janiak said his champion had been clear of steroids since 2006, then took a sideswipe at Johnston's fellow trainer Jeremy Noseda for criticising travel subsidies paid by Ascot to connections of Australian runners.

It all makes for an intriguing race next week.

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