Joe Janiak has paid tribute to the horse which took him from driving taxis to riding in the back of chauffeured limousines.
Takeover Target was euthanised on Saturday morning after Janiak found him in his paddock on his Coffs Harbour property with a seriously injured leg.
Janiak famously paid $1375 for the horse which had not managed to get to the track because of chronic feet problems.
But the gelding’s former trainer, the late John Morish, encouraged Janiak to persevere saying if could get him right, he would be a Group horse.
He was more than that, winning eight Group One races and a tick over $6 million earned in the five major capitals of Australia and three overseas countries.
“It looks like he was laying down in his paddock and his leg just went from underneath him,” Janiak said.
“It is very sad but we will have a beer for him tonight.
“He was a fairytale horse and I don’t think there will be a story like him every again.
“He got me around the world. He didn’t just give me joy, he was loved by a lot of people.”
Takeover Target made his debut in April 2004, winning a Queanbeyan maiden by seven lengths.
He went on to win another five races in his first campaign culminating in the Ramornie Handicap, the feature sprint at the Grafton carnival in July.
Janiak decided to raise the bar in the spring and started him first-up in the Group One Salinger Stakes down the Flemington straight during Melbourne Cup week.
His win was a defining moment for the trainer, his horse and jockey Jay Ford as a wider audience learned the story.
But the legend was just beginning. He had a few problems during the 2005 autumn and winter and was given a spell.
Late in the year he was back to his best and continued his form into the new year with his Lightning Stakes and Newmarket wins setting the stage for his first trip to Royal Ascot.
He won the 2006 King’s Stand Stakes and finished third in the Golden Jubilee. So used to racing dominated by royalty, the British press embraced Janiak, Takeover Target and Ford.
“I can’t pick a favourite win because they were all special,” Ford said.
“He propelled my career and took me all over the world.”
Takeover Target went to back to Europe another three times but suffered a career-ending injury in the 2009 July Cup.
Along the way he won in Singapore and Japan and of course at home.
In his retirement he was a special guest at many racing events and he and Janiak became ambassadors for the sport.
His trainer, who used to live in modest accommodation on Queanbeyan Racecourse, bought the property at Coffs Harbour where both he and his horse had a life of comparative luxury.
ABOUT TAKEOVER TARGET:
* Bay gelding by Celtic Swing (GB) out of Shady Stream (Archregent (CAN).
* Trainer: Joe Janiak
* 41 starts: 21 wins, 6 seconds, 4 thirds.
* Cost: $A1,250 (plus GST).
* Prize money: $A6,019,400.
* 2009 Goodwood (Group One, 1200m, Morphettville)
* 2009 TJ Smith Stakes (Group One, 1200m, Randwick)
* 2008 KrisFlyer International Sprint (Group One, 1200m, Kranji, Singapore)
* 2007 Doomben 10,000 (Group One, 1350m)
* 2006 Sprinters Stakes (Group One, 1200m, Japan)
* 2006 King’s Stand Stakes (Group Two, 1006m, Royal Ascot, England)
* 2006 Newmarket Handicap (Group One, 1200m, Flemington)
* 2006 Lightning Stakes (Group One, 1000m, Flemington)
* 2004 Salinger Stakes (Group One, 1200m, Flemington)