Eclipse back-up option for Junipal

The abandonment of the Kilmore Cup has forced a rethink of plans for Junipal.

JUNIPAL winning the Bet 365 Seymour Cup at Seymour in Australia.
JUNIPAL winning the Bet 365 Seymour Cup at Seymour in Australia. Picture: Racing Photos

The Ciaron Maher and David Eustace stable considered they had found the right race for Junipal to add a nice amount of prize money to his connection's coffers. 

That was until the rain came last weekend ahead of the Listed Kilmore Cup (1600m). 

Unfortunately for Maher and Eustace and the large group of owners, those conditions would have been ideal for Junipal, however there were areas of concern by jockeys who rode at the meeting that some sections of the track were softer than others which eventually led to the abandonment of the fixture. 

Instead, Maher and Eustace have turned their attention to the Group 3 Eclipse Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on Saturday, a race that carries the same prize money as the Kilmore option that would have been run last Sunday. 

"Junipal's in great order," Maher said. 

"It was a bit stiff that he couldn't get the Kilmore Cup. Those conditions would have been ideal for him. 

"Hopefully the weather stays around, and he can get a bit of give because he definitely needs that." 

Junipal heads into Saturday's contest having not started since winning the Listed Seymour Cup (1600m) on October 22. 

That was Junipal's first win since scoring in the Group 3 Sandown Stakes (1500m) at the corresponding meeting at Sandown in 2020. 

However, in between those two victories, Junipal has had two extended stints on the sidelines and was close to retirement after his latest break after racing in Sydney in June 2022. 

That last break on the property of one of his co-owners' worked wonders and although it took to the sixth run of his preparation to strike winning form again, Junipal had been racing well. 

"He had a year off up at Lach McKenzie's farm," Maher said. 

"He had a bit of colic and eventually he started getting around the paddock pretty well, and they said we'll give him a chance and he's nearly back to his best."