Fond memories of ‘Archie’ keep flooding back
EQUINE physiotherapist Garry Christou booked an airline ticket to the North Coast on June 27 to say goodbye to an old friend.
Garry had just received news of the death of Takeover Target and the man who was almost as close to "the people's champion" as owner-trainer Joe Janiak just had to offer a last farewell.
"Joe took me to Bonville where the horse is buried to remember the great times we all had together," he said.
"Every year I handle hundreds of horses - probably tens of thousands in my career - but 'Archie' stood out more than any other.
"He was so intelligent, so much smarter and totally unique."
On Friday at 6pm, Coffs Harbour Racing Club will hold a public farewell wake for Takeover Target in the Jim Browning Lounge.
Bookings should be made today by calling Simon on 6652 1488.
There have been numerous wakes for Archie with Joe Janiak joining friends at one gathering at the Pier Hotel where he told an amazing tale of the day they (literally) ran into Silent Witness, champion racehorse of Southern Asian and described as the world's best sprinter.
Joe said the incident happened in Japan and was the only day his warrior showed contempt for a rival.
"We were heading down this underground tunnel, just Takeover, me and track rider Luke Pepper," Joe recalled with a chuckle.
"Coming towards us was a horse done up in a fancy blanket, surrounded by attendants and servants and I could see we'd only have a narrow bit of room to pass passed.
"It was Silent Witness and my bloke locked eyes on him.
"Just as we started to pass, Archie reached over and sank his teeth into its neck.
"All bloody hell broke loose and all these blokes were going off their brains until Takeover let go."
Come the day of the Group One Sprinter's Stakes at Nakayama and Joe waited to see what Archie's reaction would be to Silent Witness when they met in the mounting yard.
"Archie eyeballed him and the other bloke didn't want a part of it," Joe added.
"He'd worked out this was the horse he had to beat and in the end, treated him with contempt and psyched him out of the race."
That day, Takeover Target left the Asian champion Silent Witness trailing in his slipstream.
Joe said it was the only time his always placid mate showed any emotion towards a rival.
"Except for one day when an alpaca got into his paddock and he bailed it up and chased it away," he laughed.
"Yeah, I'll always miss him ... we made a great pair, we did.
"Had a lot of fun ... had great times."