Viva Snitz … Dunn Flyer Hits The Target

Snitz wins the Listed Takeover Target Stakes at Randwick (Steve Hart Photographics)


Few horses will ever match the deeds of Takeover Target.

Purchased for just $1,250 by Queanbeyan cabbie, Joe Janiak, the rags would go on to win over $6 million in riches, capturing six Group Ones in Australia, a Group One in Japan and, most notably for many, the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Forever in our hearts, he’ll also be kept perpetually in mind via the race named in his honour – the Listed Takeover Target Stakes over 1200m.

Formerly known as the Pacesetter Stakes and a jewel in the Gosford Race Club’s crown (Saturday’s stand-alone meet was transferred to Royal Randwick due to COVID-19), the 2020 Takeover Target was the 12th running under the new moniker and would be won in worthy fashion by the Matthew Dunn trained, Snitz.

Despite having to do all the work up front (sound familiar?), Snitz landed his fourth straight victory and, most importantly, his first win at black type level.

The Takeover Target takes Snitz’s overall tally to nine wins and seven placings from 25 starts, with $492,275 in stakes, while the 5YO gelding will now likely target – yes, pun intended – the Listed Bob Charley AO (June) Stakes over 1100m at Royal Randwick on 6 June.

“He (Snitz) will probably stay in Sydney and keep chugging along as he’s settled into his environment well,” explained his Murwillumbah (NSW north coast) based trainer. “However, you could take him to a (Group One) Stradbroke Handicap (at Eagle Farm on 6 June) on that performance.

“I honestly didn’t think he would get to this level ever, let alone this preparation.”

The 101st stakes winner for Snitzel, Snitz is one of the seven winners for Perugino mare, Tickle My, and was originally sold for $75,000 from the Basinghall draft at the 2016 Inglis VOBIS Gold Yearling Sale before being re-offered later that year at the Gold Coast Magic Millions 2YO Horses in Training Sale where he was snapped up for $140,000 by Jim Kennedy.

“Jim gave me the horse and we had quite a bit of fun, winning his first start at Grafton as a 2YO,” Dunn recalls. “Snitz was fairly inexpensive given his sire, but he was a very small 2YO and, even now – despite furnishing out – is not overly big. His mum has also been a great producer but was getting on a bit.

“Unfortunately, Jim has been ill and decided to sell up some of his horses and so Snitz was purchased by another very good client in Mitch Lowe of Viva Racing.”

The re-purchase would prove to be as timely as Snitz’s run on Saturday.

After Snitz had won successive races at Eagle Farm and Doomben last November and subsequently sent for a spell, Lowe stepped up to the plate: purchasing Snitz and syndicating him to family, friends and a rapidly growing client base.

“Snitz won his first race for us pretty comfortably – over 1200m at Randwick last month – but to come out and win the Takeover Target … well, that’s something really special,” Lowe enthused. “There’s quite a few long-time clients in the horse, but, importantly, a number of first timers as well in the ownership group.

“I can tell you there were a lot of very happy people on Saturday afternoon.”

Involved in ownership for 20 years and with 10 in work at Dunn’s stable, Lowe was marketing director for bloodstock company, Gavelhouse, before starting Viva Racing.

“The first horse I ever ‘syndicated’ was with a bunch of mates in a punters club,” Lowe reveals. “We put in $20 each week and when the pot got to $10,000, we purchased our first horse.

“I work in closely with Matt and (bloodstock agent) Neil Jenkinson and, while Viva also buys yearlings, we mainly focus on purchasing tried horses out of city stables and race them, mainly, in the northern rivers region.

“We’ve been fortunate to race horses like the stakes placed, multiple city winner, Mediterranean and Doomben winner Explosive One, but that win on Saturday … what a huge thrill.”

A huge thrill too for Snitz’s breeder, Ken Breese, whose involvement with the ‘family’ stretches back nearly 30 years.

“When we first started to get involved in breeding, Tim Stewart purchased Snitz’s granddam, Mere Fancy, on our behalf,” Breese explains. “Tickle My was her third foal and the plan was to sell her, but she got rejected as her front legs were deemed too poor to put her through the sales ring.

“Trained by Bruce Purcell, Tickle My ended up winning 11, including the (Group Two) Sunline Stakes and four other black type races, along with nearly $800,000 in prizemoney.”

Tickle My has had seven to race for seven winners … incredibly enough, by seven different sires. Snitz, however, becomes her first stakes winner.

“We’ve raced quite a few out of Tickle My, including her second foal, Take All Of Me, who, in turn, is the mother of Smart Missile’s multiple Group winner, I’ll Have A Bit,” Breese adds.

“While we’d almost given up hope of Tickle My producing a stakes winner herself, the ironic thing is that we sold both I’ll Have A Bit (to John McArdle for $48,000) and Snitz at the same VOBIS yearling sale!”

With around five broodmares (“most of them from Tickle My’s family”) and a handful of racehorses, Victorian-based Breese retired Tickle My last spring after producing a “lovely Alpine Eagle colt”.

“We’ve got an unraced Toronado 2YO filly called Jens in work with John (McArdle) and he’s absolutely in love with the yearling full sister,” Breese points out. “Tickle My is rising 24 and we’d actually sent her to Armidale Stud in Tasmania to live out her days as a grandma, but she’s in such terrific nick, Robyn (Whishaw) phoned us from Armidale and said we should give her one more go.

“What an amazing mare!”

The Power of Passion