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FORMER JUMPS JOCKEY HOPING TO CLEAR HIS BIGGEST “HURDLE” BY WINNING THE GONG



A former successful jumps jockey is hoping to clear his biggest “hurdle” as a trainer in Saturday’s $1m The Gong at Kembla Grange.

Cranbourne-based Gavin Bedggood is planning to run the widely-travelled Just Folk in the 1600m feature, and has Sydney’s Adam Hyeronimus on standby to take the mount.

But he is banking on the Illawarra region getting some rain this week to provide a suitable surface for his seven-year-old gelding, who drew poorly and wasn’t at home on a “Good 3” track and was unplaced at $21 for his previous trainer in last year’s The Gong.

“Just Folk’s best form is on wet tracks,” Bedgood said today. “A Soft 5 or better would do us nicely, but there have been conflicting weather forecasts in the last couple of days.

“I certainly didn’t ride in any $1m races, so to win The Gong as a trainer would be fantastic.”

During his riding career, Bedggood won the 2013 Grand Annual Steeplechase (5500m) on Banna Strand at the famous Warrnambool carnival for legendary New Zealand trainer John Wheeler.

He also won three Australian Steeplechases in Victoria, and the Von Doussa Steeplechase at the Oakbank Easter carnival in South Australia.

He rode 35 winners in a couple of years on the popular picnic circuit before embarking on a jumps career in 2005.

“I always wanted to train, and when I broke a femur in a track accident, that was the push to get me started,” Bedggood said.

After taking out his licence in 2017, he won with his second starter (Maldonado at the Alexandra picnics).

“I remember driving home that day and listening to Winx win the third of her four Cox Plates at The Valley,” he said.

“We were there ourselves this year with Just Folk, who ran fourth in the Group 2 Crystal Mile at only his second start for us.”

Bedggood won five races, including the 2020 Traralgon Cup and 2021 Listed Heatherlie Handicap (1700m) at Caulfield, with the now retired gallant mare No Effort.

Just Folk, who has raced in four states, won the 2021 Crystal Mile for his previous trainer Josh Julius, who brought him north last year for a fourth placing in the Group 3 Hawkesbury Gold Cup (1600m) and then two further starts in Group company in Queensland during the winter carnival.

“Josh retired from training to take up a position as track manager at Bendigo Jockey Club, and Just Folk was put up for sale online in July,” Bedggood said.

“We were able to buy him for $200,000, and syndicate him amongst clients. Even though he is now seven, he is very sound and I felt he was a good country Cups proposition.

“He has already taken his owners to Flemington on Turnbull Stakes day (October 7) where first-up he ran second in the Listed Paris Lane Stakes (1400m), and then to The Valley three weeks later.”

Bedggood has trained 11 winners so far this season ($2.90 favorite Mr Trafficanti the latest at Geelong today), following 58 in the previous two seasons, as his career tally of 95 nears a century.

He has ventured north of the border only twice during his six years of training to start both horses at Royal Randwick last year; Surprise Baby was unplaced in the Group 2 Chairman’s Quality (2600m) in April and retired afterwards, and Sir Kalahad (also now retired) ran fifth in a Benchmark 88 Handicap (1200m) in July.

Bedggood has the $2m Group 2 The Ingham (1600m) at Randwick on December 9 in mind for Just Folk if he performs well in The Gong, otherwise he will return home for a crack at the $500,000 Listed Ballarat Cup (2000m) the same day.

Premier Sydney trainer Chris Waller has nominated seven horses for The Gong, having won the inaugural running in 2019 with Mister Sea Wolf (James McDonald).

His entries are Age Of Kings, recent Hawkesbury Ladies Day Cup winner New Magnate, Osipenko, Roots, Skyman, Waterford and Wicklow.

Last start Rosehill Gardens winner Roots (Group 2 Hot Danish Stakes, 1400m) is scheduled to go to Perth for Saturday’s $1.5m Group 1 Railway Stakes (1600m) at Ascot.

Osipenko is the early $5 favorite with TAB.com.au for The Gong, ahead of Big Dance runner-up Cepheus ($7). Goulburn Cup winner Grebeni and Little Dance winner Spangler are next at $8.

Spangler’s trainer Kris Lees, who was the sole provincial winner with Tavi Time at yesterday’s The Hunter meeting at Newcastle, has also nominated last start Randwick winner Loch Eagle, but doubts he will make the field.

If he doesn’t, he will line up in a Benchmark 88 Handicap over the same distance as The Gong.

Lees’ Queensland Oaks winner Amokura, an outstanding third from well back in the Group 2 Matriarch Stakes (2000m) at Flemington a week ago, has been spelled.

“We might give her a light autumn, with the focus being on getting her back to Melbourne this time next year,” Lees said, a firm indication that the Cups will be on her agenda as a five-year-old mare next season.

Lees and Wyong trainer Kristen Buchanan were successful in supporting races at today’s Taree Cup Showcase meeting.

Lees won the Class 1 Handicap (1250m) with $1.30 hotpot Solutionist, but missed out on a third Taree Cup (2000m) when favorite Rogue Bear ($2.10) couldn’t overhaul local $61 winner Sound And Vision in the Big Dance Eligibility feature.

Fellow Newcastle trainer Sam Kavanagh finished third with Aramayo ($5.50).

Buchanan’s Oakfield Badger ($3.80 favorite) led throughout to land the Super Maiden Plate (1000m) at only his third start.

*Story John Curtis, November 19, 2023 - Pics supplied*



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