Last year’s Emirates Stakes winner Happy Trails will kick off their Cox Plate campaign at home in Adelaide this Saturday with trainer Paul Beshara confirming they will be accepted for the $115,000 Group 3 Spring Stakes (1200m).
Twelve months ago the Good Journey gelding won the Spring Stakes first-up at Morphettville before going on to have a cracker Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival campaign.
Beshara is now hoping they can do the same this season starting with back-to-back Spring Stakes wins on the weekend.
They are set to face some other quality spring carnival types too with the likes of the David Jolly-trained Blamey Stakes winner Budriguez, All Victorian Sprint Final champ Riziz and the Phillip Stokes-trained mare Just Discreet also among the Spring Stakes entries.
Happy Trails may be just off peak fitness however as they have missed some crucial preparatory gallops this time in due to the wet weather in South Australia.
“He’s going all right but he’s going to be a run or two short because we’ve missed a lot of gallops,” racenet.com.au reported Beshara as saying this week.
“We’ve had a massive wet season and trials have been called off that he should have been in and jumpout called off that he should have been in.
“He only had his first jumpout last Tuesday and he had massive blow after that.”
From there they will go to Caulfield on August 31 for a shot at the new upgraded $350,000 Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) which they ran second to Sincero in last year when it was a Group 2 event.
Happy Trails will then be kept on the same path they followed towards the $3 million Group 1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley Racecourse last October.
“He’ll have the same program as he did last year. The Cox Plate is his main goal again,” Beshara said.
“He’ll run Saturday and go back to Melbourne for the Memsie.
“He ran second in that race last year before he won the Dato Stakes.”
The $300,000 Group 2 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) runs at Moonee Valley this year on September 14 – Golden Rose Day in Sydney.
While their lead-up will be the same Beshara is hoping the Cox Plate result for Happy Trails will be different this year.
Last spring they could only manage to finish six and a half lengths away sixth to star Kiwi raider Ocean Park.
“Hopefully we have more luck this year,” Beshara said.
Happy Trails atoned for their Cox Plate defeat next run at Flemington during the Melbourne Cup Carnival in November however with their narrow victory over Fawkner in the Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m).
They were ridden to victory in the Emirates by Damien Oliver.
Oliver will be given the chance to reunite with them once he completes a 10-month ban for illegal betting.
Before that Beshara has booked Jason Holder to ride Happy Trails in the Spring Stakes and the Memsie.