Spring Carnival headline jockey Damien Oliver is back aboard Cox Plate hopeful Happy Trails in Saturday’s Group 1 $400,000 Cathay Pacific Caulfield Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield.
Happy Trials is one of seventeen gallopers nominated for the weight for age Caulfield Stakes after Morphettville trainer Paul Beshara decided to back up the seven year old following a luckless fourteenth to Lucia Valentia in the Group 1 $500,000 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington last Saturday.
Oliver, who has also been booked to ride Happy Trails in the Group 1 $3m Sportingbet Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 25, replaces Michael Rodd who has ridden the Good Journey gelding at his last three starts.
But Rodd had no luck in the straight on Happy Trials in the Turnbull Stakes when he got caught up on the fence behind the tiring Entirely Platinum and was also boxed in by Super Cool to his outside.
“He didn’t show much speed from the barriers, I had to give him a squeeze to get him travelling and then had no luck in the straight,” Rodd said after the Turnbull Stakes.
“Wouldn’t drop off from a Cox Plate point of view,” he add.
The stewards’ report verifies what Rodd said, that Happy Trails went to the line not fully tested.
“Happy Trails held up for clear running in the straight and was tightened for room at the 300m by Super Cool, which had shifted in to obtain a narrow run to the inside of Lets Make Adeal, before that gelding then shifted out to relieve the pressure. Was then unable to obtain clear running for the rest of the race and went to the line not fully tested,” an extract for the Saturday’s stewards’ report read.
As Happy Trails wasn’t pushed out in the run to the line, Beshara said that he needed another good hit out before the Cox Plate.
Oliver is no stranger to Happy Trails, having ridden him on nine occasions for two wins, including a narrow victory over Fawkner in the 2012 Group 1 $1m Emirates Stakes (1600m) at Flemington.
Happy Trials was back in form two rans back with Rodd aboard when a fast closing second to Foreteller in the Group 1 $400,000 Hyland Race Colours Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on September 20 and looked on track to go one better in the Cox Plate after finishing a close second to Shamus Awards last year.
Sydney’s premier trainer Chris Waller has entered two for the Caulfield Stakes, his last start Group 1 winners Sacred Falls and Foreteller.
Sacred Falls was back in the winner’s stall with a win over stablemate Royal Decent in the Group 1 $350,000 WFA George Main Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on September 20 while Foreteller is coming off a win in the weight for age Group 1 $400,000 Hyland Race Colours Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on the same day.
Peter Moody has nominated his in-form galloper Dissident as he continues on his way to the Cox Plate and the leading Melbourne trainer is more than happy with his progress.
“Dissident is heading in the right direction and he can’t be faulted,” Moody told the Herald Sun.
Last year’s Caulfield Cup winner Fawkner is one of two Lloyd Williams’ owned horses nominated, along with Irish import Massiyn.
The Clarry Conners trained Dear Demi has also struck form at the right time and heads to the Caulfield Stakes on the back of a win the Group 2 $200,000 Top Cut Foods Stocks Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley on September 26 and Hugh Bowman will be back aboard Australian Derby winner Criterion who was a last start second to Junoob in the Group 2 $200,000 Ascend Sales Trophies Hill Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on September 20.
While David Hayes and Tom Dabernig scratched English import Crackerjack King from last weekend’s Turnbull Stakes to run in the Caulfield Stakes this week.
Top English rider Jamie Spencer, who is retiring at the end of the year, will ride the Andrew Balding trained Side Glance on Saturday with Craig Williams to take over later in the Carnival.