Two time Group 1 winner Happy Trails in on track to win back to back Group 1 $500,000 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on Saturday following an impressive gallop at Caulfield on Monday.
Happy Trails ripped off a dashing 23.21secs for his final 400m at the end of a 1600m workout with Michalee Rodd in the saddle, pleasing trainer Paul Beshara who declared the seven year old gelding was in top condition heading into this weekend’s Group 1 contest.
“He is cherry ripe now,” Beshara told The Advertiser.
“Michael gave him a good hit-out this morning and he’s only a faction off his top now.”
And Beshara is expecting further improvement heading into the Group 1 $3m Sportingbet Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley in three weeks’ time.
“The Turnbull will have him cherry-ripe for the Cox Plate,” Beshara said.
Happy Trails was beaten a nose by three year old Shamus Award in last year’s Cox Plate after winning the Turnbull Stakes and Beshara believes he is going just as good as he was twelve months ago.
“I think he is going as well as last year,” Beshara said.
“He’s giving us all the right signs he’s on track for the Cox Plate.’’
Happy Trials claimed his first Group 1 trophy with a win in the Group 1 $1m Emirates Stakes (1600m) at Flemington during the 2012 Melbourne Spring Carnival and has performed consistently well at the top level since including a last start second to Foreteller in the Group 1 $400,000 Hyland Race Colours Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on September 20.
The Turnbull Stakes is shaping up as one of the highlights of the Melbourne Spring Carnival with Melbourne Cup favourite The Offer, super Kiwi mare Silent Achiever, the popular Puissance De Lune, last start Naturalism Stakes winner Gris Caro and possibly the Chris Waller trained Foreteller, Sacred Falls and Hawkspur to run.
Happy Trails is currently a $13 chance for the Cox Plate with Ladbrokes.com.au who have last year’s Caulfield Cup winner Fawkner at the head of the market order at $8.