Janiak has a taste for Caviar

He's been to Royal Ascot and won before, and Joe Janiak thinks supermare Black Caviar will produce a royal performance next week, as DAVID POLKINGHORNE writes

The Queen, top hats, tails, strawberries, champagne and an atmosphere that ''puts the Melbourne Cup to shame'' awaits Australian supermare Black Caviar when she races at England's historic Royal Ascot meet on June 23.

It will be a stunning occasion when Australia's queen of the track shows the world how good she is while the Queen watches on.

Former Queanbeyan cab driver Joe Janiak knows what Royal Ascot is all about after Takeover Target won there six years ago, despite costing a paltry $1375.

He won the $460,000 King's Stand Stakes (1008 metres) on the first day of the carnival before backing up his Celtic Swing gelding to run third in the $800,000 Golden Jubilee Stakes (1200m) just four days later.

Black Caviar will only run in the latter, which is now known as the Diamond Jubilee in honour of the Queen's 60th anniversary of her coronation, and Janiak will be there, proudly wearing a tie with her distinctive salmon and black colours.

Top hats and tails aren't Janiak's favourite attire - he's more comfortable in shorts and thongs - but he's willing to dress to the nines for one of the world's biggest meets.


Races have been held at Ascot for more than 300 years and the five-day carnival draws total crowds in excess of 300,000.

Like Melbourne's spring carnival, it's as much about the social side as it is the racing.

Last year more than 58,000 bottles of champagne, 3300 punnets of strawberries and 2000 kilograms of lobsters were consumed.

Usually a beer man, Janiak will put his schooner glass aside to enjoy a tipple of champers to help wash down his strawberries.

It's all part of the experience at one of the world's most exclusive meets.

''It's enormous mate, absolutely enormous. You'll never see anything in Australia like it, including the Melbourne Cup. It puts the Melbourne Cup to shame,'' Janiak said.

''People come from all over Europe. The Queen's there as well and a lot of royalists go there.''

It's no mean feat to put the race that stops a nation to shame - it regularly pulls more than 100,000 punters to Flemington.

Capacity at Ascot is just 75,000, but Janiak still rates it above the Cup.

When Takeover Target won the King's Stand it was by a short head, from Irish sprinter Benbaun.

But when Black Caviar jumps as the clear odds-on $1.30 favourite at this year's carnival, Janiak is expecting a much more convincing victory.

He doesn't think there's a horse in the world that can touch the Peter Moody-trained supermare as she looks for her 22nd consecutive victory in as many starts.

''I don't think any other horse will get near her. Peter's done his homework and he said they're not highly-rated sprinters,'' Janiak said.

''Normally the Aussie sprinters are faster than the Pommie sprinters. They train their horses for long-distance races and they haven't got many good sprinters.

''I think she'll be a certainty. I think she'll be a bit more convincing than [Takeover Target's win].''

In Australia, Flemington is famous for its 1200m straight, but Ascot has an even longer one - about 1600m - and it's all uphill.

After the Diamond Jubilee, Black Caviar is expected to race in the group 1 July Cup (1200m) at Newmarket on July 14, before returning to Australia.

Takeover Target raced in the July Cup twice, finishing seventh in 2006 and again in 2009 - his last race.

Janiak's gelding also raced at Royal Ascot two more times, finishing fourth (2007) and second (2008) in the King's Stand, as well as second (2007) and fourth (2008) in the Golden Jubilee.

Now living at Coffs Harbour, Janiak is on a racing tour of Europe.

His first stop is Paris for Sunday's French Oaks at Chantilly before going to Royal Ascot to see Black Caviar.