WHEN former Queanbeyan cab driver Joe Janiak purchased a bolshy young gelding at a Sydney disposal sale back in July 2003, he was less worried about the horse’s ability and more interested in the modest, $1250 price tag.
Nearly a decade and more than $6 million in prize money later, Takeover Target has been inducted into the Australian Racing Hall Of Fame, crowning a glittering racing career that included 21 wins and 10 placings from 41 starts.
Owner-trainer Janiak – now based at Coffs Harbour – attended the induction ceremony at the Four Seasons Hotel in Sydney last Friday, and said he was proud of the horse’s achievement in Australian and international racing.
“It was a good night there. There’s not too many horses who’ve made it there [into the Hall of Fame], especially ones that are still alive,” he said. Asked what sort of horse ‘Archie’ was to train, Janiak said “a fast one”.
“I wasn’t used to that. It’s good when they show something on the track early on. His ?rst preparation we knew we had a problem horse, but we knew we had a horse that had plenty of potential”. Takeover Target debuted in a 1200 metre race at Queanbeyan Racecourse in April 2004, and would go on to win his next six runs.
A series of injuries would keep the horse out of racing until late 2005, when he smashed the 1200m track record at Doomben Racecourse, before going on to win major Group 1 events including the Lightning Stakes and the Newmarket Handicap at Flemington Racecourse in early 2006.
Janiak then took the horse overseas to compete in major races in England, Japan and Hong Kong, including a win at the Group 2 King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot in June 2006. It has been a stellar racing career for a horse that started with such modest ambitions.
Janiak said he was only concerned about racing Archie around Queanbeyan when he first started training the horse. ‘‘I was just hoping to win a race around Canberra and Queanbeyan and get my money back,’’ he said.
As for the secret behind training a champion, Janiak said there wasn’t one. ‘‘No secret, just have a horse that’s got ability and you’ll be right,’’ he said.
These days Archie lives a quiet, paddock life near Lawrence on the NSW North Coast, but he still gets out to race meets around the country, participating in exhibition gallops and leading the field out at race meets. Joe Janiak continues to train racehorses, and works a stable of 10 horses at his Coffs Harbour property. He’ll be heading overseas for race meets in England, Ireland and France later this year.