War Erupts in Villiers Victory

5 01 2008

From Racing & Sports 

(SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA) – Regardless of the result of today’s Group 2 Villiers Stakes at Randwick, Takeover Target proved he has a champion heart.

Takover Target beaten in Protest
Takover Target beaten in Protest
Photo by Racing and Sports

The top sprinter, carting 61kg in the rain, yet again fought tooth and nail to hold off a lightweight challenge and prevailed when his hopes looked forlorn to score.

But unlike last start where he also won by the barest of margins in the Lazer Sharp Quality, this race went to the stewards room and was stripped from him and handed to Honor In War.

In the run Takeover Target settled outside the leader Pasikatera but took over early in the straight. Jockey Jay Ford cuddled him for as long as possible and stole a break when asked to go, but drifted out in the straight just as Honor In War was making his run.

The former American galloper, ridden by Hugh Bowman, had to push out into the clear again around Takeover Targets heels and hit the line hard, lunging late but losing by a nose in a tight photo.

Bowman successfully argued to stewards that he had established a line to come at the favourite who had drifted out and caused him to lose momentum.

The win of Honor In War was lost in the chaos of the people’s favourite, whose “boos” were loud and clear upon hearing the result.

But it was a terrific training performance by Rosehill trainer Chris Waller with Honor In War, scoring his first win since arriving in Australia to continue his racing career.

In the United Stakes he was regarded as a top turf galloper and was a Group 1 winner but in his eight seasons there, where he racked up eight wins and 12 minors, had never won at under a mile..

Now a nine-year-old stallion, today’s Group 2 success was a triumph for his new trainer and took the chestnut’s career earnings to over $2 million.

Waller praised the champion qualities of Takeover Target but believed the stewards made the right decision.

“It’s a great race to win,” Waller said. “Our horse had the rightful running and deserved to win the race.”

Bowman also praised the runner-up.

“I was entitled to my chance to beat him,” Bowman said. “When you’re chasing those horses you don’t want anything to go against you. He’s still a champion but it was the right result.

Alverta worked home solidly again in the straight but could manage only this time, while Miss Pageantry held fourth.

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