Group 1 performer Happy Trails is still on track to run in the Group 1 $400,000 Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on August 30 even though he missed a place at Morphettville last Saturday.
Happy Trails was sent out the $3.20 second favourite in the nine horse field of the Group 3 $115,000 David R Coles AM Spring Stakes (1200m) and after racing near the tail of field ran home late to finish fifth to Riziz, who started the top pick at $2.30.
Even though Happy Trails was beaten four and three quarter lengths, Adelaide trainer Paul Beshara was happy with the run and will head to Melbourne with his eye firmly fixed on the Group 1 $3m Sportingbet Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 25.
The big chestnut was having his first start last Saturday since failing to run down Shamus Award by a nose when second in last year’s Cox Plate and Beshara can see the positives out of his first up effort.
“I’m not unhappy,’’ Beshara told The Advertiser.
“It was just a sprint home. He was never going to win giving the leader a start like he did.’’
“He was strong on the line and he’ll be much better for the outing.’’
Stand in rider Troy Baker also said the soft track wasn’t suited to Happy Trails and the seven year old never felt comfortable on the shifting surface.
“It was hard for him to quicken,’’ Baker said.
“Every time I asked him to go, he wanted to dip. He just didn’t like the shifting ground.’’
Top Melbourne jockey Dwayne Dunn will be back aboard Happy Trails when he returns to Melbourne after partnering him during the latter part of the 2013 Spring Carnival.
Last year Dunn got the nod to ride Happy Trails when fourth in the Group 1 $400,000 Hyland Race Colours Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield and followed that up with a win in the Group 1 $500,000 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington before being beaten a whisker by the three year old Shamus Award in the Cox Plate.
Beshara will follow a similar Spring Carnival path to last year’s with Happy Trials to line up in the Memsie Stakes, The Underwood Stakes and the Turnbull Stakes before tackling the Cox Plate again.
“I would say he’ll be ready by the Underwood,” Beshara said.
“He might not win the Memsie, but I expect him to be right up there.”
Happy Trails is well in contention in the Cox Plate betting with Ladbrokes.com.au and is marked a $15 chance alongside of Irish galloper Adelaide, Hong Kong star Dan Excel, Australian Oaks winner Royal Descent and Doncaster Mile winner Sacred Falls.
Super Kiwi mare Silent Achiever heads the market order at $11 in front of Aidan O’Brien’s Irish Group 1 winner Magician and William Haggas’ English Group 1 winner Mukhadram, both at$14.