Happy Trails will head to the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) after scoring an upset victory in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington this afternoon.
Melbourne Cup favourite Puissance De Lune received a lovely run in transit and looked as though he had the race won when he kicked clear from Fawkner at the 200 metre mark but Happy Trails popped through the middle of the field to record his second victory at Group 1 level.
Trainer Paul Beshara has always considered Happy Trails a leading contender for the Cox Plate and will go into the Australasian Weight-For-Age Championship at Moonee Valley in three weeks’ time full of confidence with a horse that he considers part of his family.
“He is magnificent horse; he is like my brother or son,” Beshara said.
“I couldn’t believe the price he went out at; he is always underrated and he never runs a bad race and today he just showed you.
“I always though with a proper run he would have done well in the Cox Plate last year.
“We are back again and he (Dwayne Dunn) will ride him in the Cox Plate.”
“We have been all around Australia with him; he is by Good Journey and he has put us on a good journey.
“We owe him more than he owes us.”
Jockey Dwayne Dunn said that the race was a little bit messy early and he was delighted that a chance of riding tactics paid dividends with the six-year-old.
“There was a bit of hustle bustle early and there were horses that went a little further forward than we would have expected,” Dunn said.
“We came out negative today, we found out we put him too close and he only plugged to the line the other day, but as you have seen being a little bit kinder in the first half makes him finish a lot better.
“At the mile it was starting to get a bit tough up the front and it was great to be out the back minding our business.
“He is a horse that has flown under the radar, if he was with a different stable he would have a bigger wrap, and Paul has just chipped away with him.”
Dunn clearly has a high opinion of the son of Good Journey but believes that he will need to improve again to be competitive against It’s A Dundeel and Atlantic Jewel in the Cox Plate.
“He needs to take the next step again,” Dunn said.
“Most of the horses today were heading towards a two mile campaign and not a 2000 metre race so we need to keep that in mind but he is just so genuine that he puts himself in the race.
“To the horses credit he is just so easy to work with and he is a pleasure to be associated with him.”