Trainer Paul Beshara has confirmed that Cox Plate runner-up Happy Trails will start his 2014 Spring Racing Carnival campaign in the Group 3 Spring Stakes (1200m) at Morphettville on Saturday.
Happy Trails was one of 12 horses included in the Spring Stakes nominations that were released yesterday and he will be contesting the race for the third straight year after winning in 2012 and finishing a luckless fifth last year.
The Good Journey gelding will be returning to the races for the first time since he suffered a tendon injury on his near side foreleg after finishing second behind Shamus Award in the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) and Beshara told RSN this morning that the seven-year-old was in good condition ahead of the Spring Stakes this weekend.
“He will line up,” Beshara said.
“He had a trial last Friday, a little bit of a gallop this morning and he is cherry ripe.
“To me he would win anything; he is just a brainy, special horse.”
The Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 25 will be the major 2014 Spring Racing Carnival target for Happy Trails and Beshara said that each of his race starts will be designed to help his star galloper reach peak fitness for the Australasian Weight-For-Age Championship.
The Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on August 30, the Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) at the same venue on September 20 and the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on October 4 are all on the agenda for Happy Trails and Beshara is confident that the tough gelding can replicate his form from last spring.
“It is pretty hard to sort of say that because you can’t have him maximum fitness right now,” Beshara said.
“He is at the start of his preparation and he has a long way to go.
“Each race has got to get him fitter until he hits his peak in that Cox Plate.
“At this stage of his preparation compared to last year, he would be about the same.”
Nominations for the Spring Stakes were extended until this morning, but Happy Trails is expected to face about 11 rivals in the Group 3 event in Adelaide this weekend.
Consistent sprinter Riziz will contest the Spring Stakes after finishing third in both the Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m) and Group 3 John Monash Stakes (1100m) during his winter preparation, while Richard Jolly-trained Karacatis will be returning to the races for the first time since he finished sixth in The Goodwood.
Peter Moody-trained Sino Eagle scored an impressive two lengths victory in the Chris Flavelle Handicap (1200m) at Caulfield on July 26 and is a chance of heading to Adelaide for the Spring Stakes, but has also been included in the nominations for the Listed Aurie’s Star (1200m) at Flemington.