Chris Waller’s super star Winx might be the punter’s favourite, but nine year old Happy Trails is the sentimental favourite as he lines up for his fifth start in the Group 1 $3m Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on Saturday.
Happy Trails, known affectionately as Roy to his followers, is spoiled rotten by trainer Paul Beshara who has saddled up the big chestnut for seven wins from sixty-three starts with earnings of $3.29 million.
“He is happy,” Beshara told Ten News.
“He has everything of his own. He has his own saddle, his own bridle, his own everything.”
“When we saddle up at the races, he would have forty, fifty people come around to watch him be saddled up.”
“People love him.”
Happy Trails is coming to the end of an illustrious career that saw him find the Group 1 winner’s stall on three occasions but he hasn’t won a race since taking out the Group 1 $1m Longines Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) at Flemington almost two years ago.
His other Group 1 trophies came with a win in the 2012 $1m Emirates Stakes (1600m) and in the 2013 $500,000 Turnbull Stakes (2000m), both at Flemington while his four Cox Plate appearances result in a tenth in 2012, a second in 2013, a sixth in 2014 and a tenth in 2015.
Beshara’s association with Happy Trails was temporarily interrupted when he was banned for six months for treating the gelding on race morning which was against the rules of racing.
Happy Trails was subsequently scratched from the Group 2 $300,000 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley on September 14 and transferred to trainer Byron Cozamanis.
Bashara was very disappointed with the ruling which he said also affected Happy Trails who he claimed went off his feed without his good companion to look after him.
“It was heart breaking for him. He never ate properly, he left his food and everything, he fretted,” Bashara said.
It was also heart breaking for Beshara who had to watch Happy Trails from the sidelines when he got beaten a nose by Shamus Award in the 2013 Cox Plate.
Ben Melham takes the ride on Happy Trails who is the $126 outsiders of the ten horse Cox Plate field but Beshara is still confident that his champ can cause an upset against the likes of the $2 favourite Winx and the in-form Hartnell at $3.50.
“Always give myself a chance. Wouldn’t be in it if I didn’t give myself a chance,” Beshara said as he draw barrier ten for Happy Trails.
“I have seen plenty of favourites get rolled.”
Happy Trails has had two Cox Plate lead up runs for an eighth to Palentino in the Group 1 $500,000 PFD Food Services Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on September 10 followed by a fifth to Hartnell in the Group 1 $500,000 Yellowglen Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on October 2.
Cox Plate market order at Ladbrokes.com.au: $2 Winx, $3.50 Hartnell, $14 Vadamos, Yankee Rose, $19 Black Heart Bart, Hauraki, $21 Lucia Valentina, $71 Awesome Rock, $81 Happy Clapper, $126 Happy Trails.