Joe Janiak sent out a formidable warning to his fellow Australian raiders and the home defence by declaring last year’s King’s Stand winner Takeover Target better than ever.
The speedster held on by a short head to collect in the five-furlong sprint at Royal Ascot 12 months ago before occupying third place in Golden Jubilee Stakes on the final day of the meeting.
William Hill and Coral have him heading their King’s Stand market at 5-1, and Janiak said: “He has had three runs now this year and his last win topped him off.
“I would say he is better this year than last. I would like to think I have the best horse, but I am not sure.”
Also fronting Coral’s market is Lee Freedman’s multiple Group One-winning mare Miss Andretti, who broke the course record when blitzing to success in the first leg of the Global Sprint Challenge – the Lightning Stakes – at Moonee in February.
Freedman said: “I think she has travelled well, but I think it is always harder to travel with a mare.
“She is adaptable, though, and once she got here and she settled into her new surroundings she was very happy.
“She is a very good mare and she goes well fresh – she always wins first time out, but she is best coming off a bend.
“The straight course shouldn’t worry her too much but she does like to kick off a bend.
“I am not sure how she will measure up against the other horses. She has met all ours bar Takeover Target. He is a great horse and is hard to see off, and then there are the local horses too, so I will have to keep my guard up.”
Miss Andretti worked along with Takeover Target and Magnus in Newmarket this morning, after which Stan James trimmed her to 5-1 from 6s for the Golden Jubilee and King’s Stand.
The last-named was a length-and-a-half second to Miss Andretti in the Lightning Stakes.
And after chasing the mare home again the following month he broke through at the highest level in the Galaxy Handicap on his most recent outing.
His trainer Peter Moody said: “The horse is in great shape and he has travelled very well.
“There is not much between the Australian horses on their form and I respect them all, but I don’t think I can’t beat them.
“But with all the travelling I have done I know it is hard to beat horses on their own territory, so the local horses worry me most.
“My horse is an entire with a gelding’s attitude and has won under all conditions, so the track and ground will be fine.
“This has been a great learning curve for me and the horse and I am overawed by being here.”