Charging home to finish an agonizingly close second to Shamus Award in last year’s edition of the Moonee Valley feature, trainer Paul Beshara is confident classy seven-year-old Happy Trails is primed to overcome the talented 2014 Cox Plate field of 14 confirmed on Tuesday morning.
Securing a commendable record of six wins and a further 14 minor places from his 43 competitive appearances at the races so far, Happy Trails has steadily built to the task over five starts through the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival and finished fifth in the key form-indicating Group 1 Caulfield Stakes over 2000m last time out.
While pleased with his efforts in the 2013 Cox Plate, Beshara revealed he has been thrilled with the continually building form and class of the Good Journey gelding this time in and is confident he is ready to tackle then talent-filled Cox Plate field this weekend.
“He’s a lot better now; he’s more mature – he’s seven, he’s got to be,” Beshara said.
“He’s going well, he’s glowing and looks good and his runs in this time have been really good.
“He had an extra run which he never has last year, he ran in the Caulfield Stakes and other than that I think he can win.
“He has barrier 2, he’s a horse that will get back and with a bit of luck on his side he gets out he comes home pretty strong.”
Blocked for a run rounding onto the final straight of the Caulfield Stakes on October 11th and forced wide, Beshara is confident Happy Trails’ ability to finish fifth after displaying his signature turn of foot will be key in a successful Cox Plate tilt this weekend.
“It was a really good run actually; from where he was to come out (to) that part of the track (which) was not running good and he hit the line – in the last 50 metres he was coming good,” he added.
Running fifth in the Group 3 Spring Stakes (1200m) at Morphettville first-up on August 9th, Happy Trails was squeezed out and hampered for a run when eighth in the Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) on August 30th before finishing a short nose behind Foreteller in the Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) on September 20th.
Luckless once more when blocked for a run and inconvenienced 400m from the post in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) just one week prior to the Caulfield Stakes, Happy Trails is currently rated an $11 chance of finishing at the fore of the Cox Plate field with Ladbrokes Australia.