Trainer Paul Beshara has confirmed that popular gelding Happy Trails will start his autumn campaign in the 2015 Futurity Stakes at Caulfield on February 28.
Happy Trails was given a break after he recorded his third win at Group 1 level in the Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on Victoria Derby Day, but returned to trackwork this morning to begin preparations for an autumn campaign that will include race starts in both Melbourne and Sydney.
Beshara told TVN Happy Trails would return to racing in the Group 1 Futurity Stakes before contesting races like the Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on March 14, the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) at Royal Randwick on April 4 and the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at the same venue a week later.
“I have to have him ready first-up for the Futurity on the 28th,” Beshara said.
“Then he’ll go straight into the Australian Cup two weeks later, there’s no other way I can get him there
“I’ll just have to have him fit and ready to go and I think a few others will be doing the same, because I can’t see any other way of getting to the Australian Cup.
“We might run in the Doncaster, but I think he’ll probably get too much weight in that, so we’ll just have to wait and see.
“Sometimes they compress the weights in those big races, but certainly the Queen Elizabeth is his main aim in Sydney.”
Happy Trails started his 2014 Spring Racing Carnival campaign with a fifth place finish in the Group 3 Spring Stakes (1200m) at Morphettville on August 9 and finished eighth in the Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on August 30.
The Good Journey gelding returned to his best form with a second place finish in the Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on September 20 before he had no luck when 14th in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on October 4.
Happy Trails was far from disgraced in both the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield on October 11 and Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 25 ahead of his Mackinnon Stakes victory.
Beshara said that Happy Trails was given six quiet weeks following his Mackinnon Stakes win, but revealed that the seven-year-old had been on the water walker in order to keep a base of residual fitness ahead of his autumn preparation.
“He’s had five weeks out, but he’s been on the walker every day,” Beshara said.
“He comes back tomorrow, I can’t afford for him to lose too much fitness because I have to have him ready first-up for the Futurity.”
Happy Trails was purchased for just $11,000 at the 2009 Adelaide Magic Millions Yearling Sale and has now accumulated over $2.7 million in prizemoney from his 45 race starts.