Trainer Paul Beshara only has one race in mind for 2012 Emirates Stakes winner Happy Trails – the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m).
Happy Trails finished tenth in the 2012 edition of the Cox Plate but Beshara is hopeful that the rising six-year-old can take advantage of the absence of a whole host of weight-for-age stars to score the biggest victory of his racing career.
“More Joyous won’t be there, All Too Hard won’t be there, Pierro won’t be there, Reliable Man won’t be there,” Beshara told News Limited.
“Ocean Park has been retired to stud and Atlantic Jewel has a question mark.
“The favourite is It’s A Dundeel and really, we should’ve beaten him in the Queen Elizabeth.”
Happy Trails opened his 2012 Spring Racing Carnival campaign with a victory in the Spring Stakes (1200m) at Morphettville before finishing second in the Group 2 Memsie Stakes (1400m) and upsetting eventual Melbourne Cup winner Green Moon in the Group 2 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m).
The son of Good Journey concluded his Cox Plate preparations in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) and Beshara said the rising six-year-old will follow the exact same path in 2013.
Last year, after his lackluster effort in the Cox Plate, Happy Trails returned to the races to record his maiden Group 1 win in the Emirates Stakes (1600m) but during the 2013 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival he failed to produce at this level.
Happy Trails finished well back in the Canterbury Stakes (1300m), George Ryder Stakes (1500m) and Doncaster Handicap (1600m) but was more impressive over the longer trip of the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth (2000m), where he finished third behind Reliable Man and It’s A Dundeel.
The Adelaide-based gelding will have the first jump-out of his preparation on Tuesday.