Takeover Target took a giant step to a wider stage with a grand win in the Lightning Stakes (Aus-I) at Melbourne's Flemington oval Feb. 4.
In winning Australia's sprint championship, the 6-year-old son of Celtic Swing again confirmed his cult status. He also gained an invitation to contest major races at England's feted Ascot course in the approaching northern summer.
Takeover Target won a thrilling 52nd edition of the Southern Hemisphere's most famous straight contest at one thousand meters, closed out in 56.8 seconds as the gelding from the boondocks defeated the best sprinters around.
It certainly opened the 2006 part of the Australian grade I season with a bang.
As usual, Jay Ford rode the winner aggressively, running co-leader Stratum into the ground and resisting all challenges.
The winner's tenth success from 16 starts was not unexpected, late support shaving Takeover Target's price from 4-1 to 13-4 and favorite before the 11 jumped. The winning purse of $300,000 (Australian funds) advanced his earnings beyond $1.2 million.
The horse from Queanbeyan, near the national capital of Canberra, arrived a short neck ahead of high class 3-year-old God's Own (15-2). Hong Kong-based globetrotter Cape of Good Hope (13-1) ran a great race to finish three-quarters of a length back in third over a distance short of his optimum.
God's Own swept to prominence with an astonishing win against his own age in the Caulfield Guineas (Aus-I) last spring. The Danehill grandson – he's by Redoute's Choice – appears in ominous form for his fall targets.
Cape of Good Hope ran his invariably honest race to deprive promising Singspiel
daughter Rewaaya of third. There was an 'A-list' of talent left farther astern, including Queen of the Hill and Stratum.
The latter son of Redoute's Choice races for the same barn as Choisir, the Danehill Dancer colt who parlayed success in the 2003 Lightning into Ascot glory in the King's Stand (Eng-II) and Golden Jubilee (Eng-I), before heading off to Coolmore.
Takeover Target will attempt the same Ascot goals.
When the $1,250 purchase collected his first grade I in the 2004 Salinger, over the straight 1,200 meters of Flemington, his owner-trainer Joe Janiak was driving a taxi to supplement his earnings.
A million dollars later he needs to apply for a passport. Along the way, he and Takeover Target have become heroes along with rider Ford.
Janiak gained his life-altering horse cheaply; the Meringo Stud Farm-bred gelding was immature and injury-prone when offered as a 3-year-old at an Inglis & Son Mixed Winter sale. He still has injury concerns, but many well-heeled owners would happily buy them.
His sire, Celtic Swing, is a former shuttler who has resided for the past few years at the Irish National Stud after starting out at its English counterpart, with a brief sojourn in France.
This son of Mr Prospector horse Damister won five from a seven-start career. Easily his most important success came in the Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby-Fr-I), after a second in the English Two Thousand Guineas (Eng-I).
The female side of Takeover Target's pedigree is less distinguished. He is not so much a horse that has outrun his pedigree, but one that has fled from his mother's family.
And at Warp speed!