Michael Rodd will be riding Happy Trails for the first time in the 2014 Memsie Stakes and trainer Paul Beshara is happy to have the leading hoop on the tough gelding in the Group 1 event at Caulfield on Saturday.
Dwayne Dunn was the regular rider of Happy Trails during the 2013 Spring Racing Carnival and he steered the Good Journey gelding to victory in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m), but the veteran hoop has been booked to ride leading Memsie Stakes contender Messene.
Beshara told Racing Ahead that he believes Rodd is the right sort of rider for Happy Trails, but be admits that the Group 1 winning hoop may require a bit of luck from barrier two in the Memsie Stakes this weekend.
“Dwayne had first right of refusal, but being the number one rider for Hawkes he has to stay there with that stable and that is quiet understandable,” Beshara said.
“We just thought that Michael has a very similar riding style to Dwayne, he is very patient, and we are very happy.
“I’d say that he would be three back on the fence and it depends on how fast the pole horse jumps out.
“If it jumps out, he will end up on the fence and we will want a little luck from there.”
Happy Trails started his 2014 Spring Racing Carnival campaign in the Group 3 Spring Stakes (1200m) at Morphettville on August 9 and never seemed comfortable on the slow surface, but was still able to work home fairly to finish fifth.
Beshara said that he was still not happy with the physical condition of Happy Trails coming out of the Spring Stakes, but believes that his second place finish in a barrier trial over 1000 metres at Gawler on August 22 has brought the seven-year-old along nicely heading into the Memsie Stakes.
“He is very good,” Beshara said.
“He was still a little bit fat so I gave him a trial last Friday and he has done well with that.
“He got a couple of smacks on the bum in that and that made him chase home a little bit harder, he is getting a little bit older so he is taking his time to come to hand.
“He does seem to go on slow tracks, so we have had to push him along, we have lost a lot of jump outs here in Adelaide because of the rain.”
Happy Trails is currently available at 2014 Memsie Stakes odds of $17, with Boban ($4) now favourite in the betting market with Ladbrokes Australia from Messene ($4.40), Sweet Idea ($5.50) and Moment Of Change ($6).