Aging but still resilient superstar speedster Takeover Target, already a veteran of two successful campaigns at Royal Ascot, was resuming from a spell and taking on Australia’s current sprinting dynamo, Apache Cat. Group I winner Magnus, who has also went to England last year, finishing third in the King’s Stand Stakes (Eng-I) was also in the field of seven.
The contest promised to be mouth-watering, and travel plans hinged on the result.
Well, Apache Cat, by Lion Cavern and out of Tennessee Blaze, signaled to his trainer, Greg Eurell, and owners that he is ready for the world now by thrashing the seasoned pair at level weights. And his decisive win means he will head to Royal Ascot in May as the best sprinter in Australia and the best to represent Australia in England over the short trip.
This was Apache Cat’s third straight group I win, and the authority he showed when he let down and sizzled past leader Takeover Target (Celtic Swing—Shady Stream, by Archregent) with a furlong to go suggests nothing will stand in his way when he struts his handsome white head in front of the Queen.
“He’s a great fresh horse. I was thrilled with that, and it will give us plenty of confidence to take him over to England now on those straight tracks,” Eurell said.
“I was confident that he was spot-on for this, but I had a little concern that he hadn’t raced on a track this wet for over two years.”
That concern was thrown out the window by the time they turned for home. Eight-year-old sensation Takeover Target, already a King’s Stand winner in England and who last year was beaten a lip in the Group I Golden Jubilee as well, began like a rocket and dueled for the lead throughout with Magnus, the hectic pace not doing either sprinter’s hopes any good.
Yet, as they straightened up, the big old bloke took off again and left the field in his wake. Takeover Target’s rider, Jay Ford, seemed to have a lap full of horse and the giant stride he always produces kicked in. But just when Takeover Target was being hailed as the winner, Apache Cat, who had been sitting back in the fourth spot throughout, smoking his pipe, unleashed his now customary paralyzing charge and claimed the old boy with consummate ease at the furlong mark. Magnus (Flying Spur—Scandinavia), who was trying his heart out, was fading on the wet surface. This left Reigning To Win (King of Kings—Secret Liaisons , by T.V Heart Throb) himself a group I winner, with the last shot at all of them. He was checked by the winner at the furlong when making a solid run, but his charge was nowhere near as profound as Apache Cat’s. Reigning To Win got up in the last bound to nudge Takeover Target out of second prize, but more than two lengths behind Apache Cat, who has four white socks and a completely white head.
Now, while Apache Cat did give Takeover Target and cohorts a start and a hiding, the victory must be put into perspective, as old Takeover Target was well above himself in condition and will derive great benefit from the hit-out. He is taking a little bit longer each year to get fit, and there is still some fight left in the old boy yet. His trainer, Joe Janiak, was happy with the run in the way a wily old trainer would say, “This is not our Super Bowl; England is.” He didn’t say as such, but jockey Ford did. “Wait till his next start, when he’s fitter and on a drier track,” said Ford, warning punters not to drop off his old mate, Takeover Target.
To counter this, Apache Cat’s rider Corey Brown simply said: “He was just going easy throughout and at the 200 meters, I knew he was home. Just try and get me off his back when he goes to England.”
Both Apache Cat and Takeover Target will aim at England’s two biggest group I races: the King’s Stand Stakes over five furlongs in early June and the six-furlong Golden Jubilee—both at Royal Ascot. Both horses will enter quarantine the week of April 28.
The win for Apache Cat took his lifetime earnings to Aus$2,667,800 (approximately U.S. $2.5million) from his 14 victories. He’s had 28 starts, won four at group I level, and more importantly, the 5-year-old has won eight of his past 11 starts.
Magnus ended up fourth, and he may now be sent to stud at Eliza Park Stud in Victoria.