Crack Aussie sprinter Takeover Target holds the Doomben 1200 metre track record. He won by inches in his English debut at Royal Ascot in the wee hours of this morning.
Champion Australian sprinter Takeover Target has won in a head bobbing finish - by only a short head - at his English debut run the Group 2 Kings Stand Stakes at the opening day of the magnificently appointed new look Royal Ascot track. He got the photo over 16-1 chance Benbaun with 25-1 shot Pivotal Point a further half length away in third placing. Takeover Target’s fellow Australian Falkirk ran a dead heat 4th and Glamour Puss was not disgraced either, but I am unsure of her exact finishing order.
It is the wonder England isn’t like New Zealand and forced to put up with all tote betting – with all bookmakers having gone broke a long time ago – as if you can believe it, they bet 7-1 about the chances of the Australian galloper who finalised at $3.50 (5-2) on Australian fixed odds TAB markets.
Takeover Target who had drawn 17 alley, was eased across to the opposite side of the track after the running of the first race down the straight over 1200 metres had indicated there was a bias towards horses drawn with single digit barrier draws. In the first race on the card two horses coming up that side of the track were never challenged and had the race to themselves a long way out.
Two horses actually fell during Takeover Target’s race, but they were well in arrears of Takeover Target when the scrimmage occurred.
So tense was the finish that jockey Jay Ford admitted in a BBC interview straight after the race that he thought he had gone down in a photo finish. He told reporters “I thought I got nutted on the line, so it was a bit of a surprise to come back and see we’d held on, but to my bloke’s credit he drew poorly and he sort of had to do the work to get across and probably his condition from being first up gave out in the last bit, but he is all just heart at the end of the day”.
Asked by the BBC reporter what sort of a thrill it was to ride in front of that Royal Ascot crowd, Jay Ford said “to do it (win) in front of England and in another country is something special”.
When interviewed after the win trainer Joe Janiak said, “I wasn’t quite sure whether he got there and I’m a very relieved now (that he has got the photo) - so I’m glad we made the right decision”.
Joe Janiak said that Takeover Target’s next mission to back up and win again Saturday night (our time) was no foregone conclusion, result wise, noting “it took something out of him that race, so we’ll see how he pulls up mate”.
On course broadcaster Jim McGrath – well known to Australians for his media input into assessing international runners around Caulfield and Melbourne Cup time each year – probably summed it up best when he said on BBC television as Takeover Target made the long walk back to scale “that is one of the great international victories of the modern era, following three years after Choisir did the famous double here and now Takeover Target is only days away from emulating that outstanding sprinter. This is the seven-year-old who was bought for just under (the Australian dollar equivalent of) 500 pounds at a dispersal sale in Australia. His trainer was told he was mad. He was told that the horse was so badly injured - he had chips in his knees – he was told it wasn’t worth having a crack at him. But he did. He is the most patient man around and what a character he is. What a magnificent performance”.
After that Jim, no further comment is required – as Australian lovers of thoroughbred racing stand as one - to applaud a wonderful achievement. May horses like Takeover Target allow the romance of the turf to be eternal throughout history and let’s hope and pray that “romance” never wants a divorce.