Trainer Terry O’Sullivan has confirmed that progressive gelding Happy As Hell will take his place in the 2014 Queensland Derby field after recovering well from his third place finish in the TVN Handicap (2400m) on Saturday.
Happy As Hell started his autumn preparation with a disappointing performance in the Listed Bendigo Guineas (1400m) on March 15 and failed to fire in the Superior Food Services Handicap (1400m) at Sandown on April 2, but improved when given the opportunity to step-up in distance and took out the Ernest Hillier Chocolates Handicap (1800m) at Caulfield on April 19 and performed well behind the talented St Jean and Sacred Flyer last weekend.
O’Sullivan told TVN that he has been happy with the way that Happy As Hell has performed during his preparation and is confident that the son of Savoire Vivre will run out a strong 2400 metres with Dwayne Dunn on his back in the Queensland Derby this weekend.
“He’ll fly up with Smokin Joey tonight and will run in the Derby on Saturday,” O’Sullivan said.
“We’re not super confident but we know he can really stay, he handles all types of ground and he’s very fit and in form.
“Dwayne is a top rider and he’s in great form so that’s a real bonus for the horse.”
Happy As Hell will be having his sixth race start in two and a half months in the Queensland Derby and O’Sullivan confirmed that the three-year-old would be sent to the spelling paddock no matter how he performs in the Group 1 event on Saturday; with a 2014 Spring Racing Carnival campaign on the agenda for the promising stayer.
“He can have a good break up there, win, lose or draw after Saturday,” O’Sullivan said.
“He can have five or six weeks in the paddock in the warmer weather up there then we’ll bring him back and see what he can do here in the spring.”
Happy As Hell is currently available at 2014 Queensland Derby odds of $61; with Chris Waller-trained Vilanova ($3.80) a narrow favourite from progressive gelding Elusive Runner ($4.80), Troy Corstens-trained Pinstripe Lane ($4.80), New Zealand-trained filly Telepathic ($9.50) and the consistent Rudy ($10).
O’Sullivan is chasing his first win at Group 1 level since he took out the 2005 South Australian Derby with Tails Of Triomphe.