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Image: Bruno Cannatelli
Joe Pride's affinity with the Takeover Target Stakes stretches back to the year it was won by its namesake

Joe Pride’s affinity with the Takeover Target Stakes stretches back to the year it was won by its namesake.

It was 2004 and Pride saddled up Red Oog, who finished third to the rising sprint star in what was then known as the Pacesetter Stakes.

A year later, Red Oog gave his trainer a maiden Group One win in the Doomben 10,000, relegating Takeover Target to third.

Since then, Pride has carved out an outstanding record in the Listed sprint, winning it four times, most recently with Kuro in 2017.

And he reckons his statistics should read even better.

“It’s been a ripper of a race for me and I should have won it last year too with Easy Eddie. He was unlucky,” Pride said.

This year’s edition will look a little different with COVID-19 restrictions meaning it will be held on the expanses of Randwick, rather than the tight Gosford circuit.

But it will not stop Pride trying to land a fifth win, this time with enigmatic galloper Chauffeur.

Runner-up in the Magic Millions Classic at two and stakes placed at three, Chauffeur had been through a handful of stables before landing at Pride’s last year.

The trainer is renowned for his ability to reinvigorate the careers of tried horses but even he admits Chauffeur’s situation is challenging.

“The hardest gig is to get a former good two-year-old going,” Pride said.

“They lose a bit of desire and there is only so many times you can ask them for an effort.

“So I’ve just been letting him loaf around in his trials and his track work then on Saturday I will ask him for his effort.

“I will put his gear back on him, his blinkers and his tongue tie. They’ve only got so many good gallops in them.”

Pride is banking on Chauffeur producing one of them in the Takeover Target Stakes.

The five-year-old’s only two wins have been first-up and he resumes on Saturday with Pride hopeful he can “run a cheeky race”.

While Chauffeur is an enigma on the racetrack, Pride has found him a pleasure to have around the stable.

But it is probably fortunate he is a horse and not a human as he enjoys doing as little work as possible.

“He is pretty cool. He gets around with his tongue hanging out all the time. We call him Gus,” Pride said.

“If he was a human he would definitely be on the dole. There is no way in the world he’d have a job.

“An unemployed Chauffeur, that would be him.”

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