Happy Trails has been backed into 2015 Australian Cup odds of $4.80 and is now favourite to take out the Group 1 event at Flemington on Saturday.
Happy Trails opened as equal favourite in Australian Cup betting markets with Melbourne Cup winner Protectionist, but there has been plenty of early support for the popular galloper and he has been an early market mover.
The Good Journey gelding returned to racing with a credible performance in the Group 1 Orr Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on February 14 and hit the line strongly in the perfect Australian Cup trial when second in the Group 2 Peter Young Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on February 28.
Happy Trails has recorded all three of his wins at Group 1 level at Flemington and trainer Paul Beshara believes that the long straight suits his star galloper, which gives him the best possible chance to record yet another victory at the highest level of racing in the Australian Cup.
“He likes that long straight and that sweeping bend,” Beshara said.
“With that long straight he can wind up, he’s got a good turn of foot and at Flemington, he’s got the whole straight to do it.
“I’m always confident with him and in my eyes I’m very positive.”
Protectionist opened at a quote of $5 when the 2015 Australian Cup field was released yesterday morning, but the 2014 Melbourne Cup winner has been an early drifter and he is out to a quote of $5.50.
The imported stayer was far too good for his rivals in the Melbourne Cup last year, but he is still an unproven commodity over shorter distances and he was unable to get into the race when he finished sixth in the Peter Young Stakes.
The only other horses that is available at single figure Australian Cup odds is Mourinho, who has remained steady at a quote of $9 since betting opened for the Group 1 event yesterday.
Mourinho started his autumn preparation with a big upset win over Dissident in the Group 2 Australia Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on January 24 and he went on to finish third in the Orr Stakes before recording another strong win at Group level in the Peter Young Stakes.
There has been a sprinkling of support in early Australian Cup betting for Chris Waller-trained Foreteller ($12 into $11), while three-time Melbourne Cup runner-up Red Cadeaux ($11 out to $12), cult hero The Cleaner ($14 out to $15) and imported stayer Spillway ($8 out to $10) have all been on the drift in the past 24 hours.