Just Folk breaks winless drought with Eclipse Stakes victory

Just Folk ridden by Mark Zahra wins the Eclipse Stakes at Caulfield. (Photo by Reg Ryan/Racing Photos)

Just Folk (+190) has grounded out a tough victory in the Group 3 Eclipse Stakes to record his first win for new trainer Gavin Bedggood.

The seven-year-old gelding was gallant in defeat behind Charterhouse and Foxy Cleopatra in the Cranbourne Cup seven days ago, with more suitable conditions on Saturday, Bedggood chose to back him up, and it paid dividends.

Joining his stablemate Keats (+340) at the front of the field, Just Folk settled on the outside with Danish Fortune and Sir Lucan just behind them.

As they rounded the home turn, Beau Mertens on Keats shook up his mount, while Mark Zahra still had a good hold on the eventual winner, and he took the lead with 300m to go.

However, Danish Fortune (+2000) burst through a gap and let down with a strong finish to challenge in the final 150m, but the outsider of the field couldn’t get past the winner as he held on to claim a narrow victory.

2023 Eclipse Stakes Replay – Just Folk | T: Gavin Bedggood | J: Mark Zahra

Gavin Bedggood was very happy to see Just Folk win and he spoke post-race.

“It’s great, it was an afterthought to come here today,” Bedggood said.

“He’d pulled up so well and had a really good blood on Wednesday, just did a little bit of work on Thursday morning and with the rain predicted.

“We’re obviously coming into December now, the chances are going to become slim so we sort of had to take the opportunity today and it paid off.

“He’s been racing consistently all preparation, he finally got his toe into the ground today properly and he was given a good ride.

“Josh (Julius) has done a great job with him, he came to us a really well looked after horse, we didn’t have to do much different with him.

In what was a short post-race interview, Mark Zahra spoke about the win.

“He is very quirky, he has a good think about it,” Zahra said.

“I sort of used the stablemate for as long as I could but had to let him go at some point.

“He actually had a crack when I went for him, he had a bit of a look around, but to the horse’s credit, when he’s seen the horse coming up the inside, he found again.”

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