Jockey Simon Price is happy with Happy Trails heading into the 2015 Spring Stakes, but he admits that he is concerned by the prospect of a wet Morphettville track tomorrow afternoon.
Happy Trails has not been seen at the races since he finished a credible seventh on a soft track in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick on April 11, but he showed that he was ready for a return when he performed strongly in an exhibition gallop at Morphettville last Saturday.
Price was happy with the feel that he received from Happy Trails in the exhibition gallop and he is confident that the eight-year-old is ready to run a good race fresh in the Spring Stakes, but he is unsure how the Good Journey gelding will handle a 1200 metres sprint on what is set to be a heavy track at Morphettville this weekend.
“He seems to be going very well,” Price said.
“He obviously still has a fair bit of improvement in him and you have to keep him a little bit fresh over the 1200.
“The weather conditions are the key to it, he is not proven on a wet track and it has been pretty wet in Adelaide.
“In saying that, his work on the course proper last Saturday between races was better than expected.
“I think if it was dry he was capable of running a really big race over the 1200, but the wet track is the main part that we are concerned about.
“If you look back over his runs in the race he has struck a bit of trouble.
“There is no doubt he can sprint well fresh if the conditions are right.
“Hopefully he can show some encouraging signs, he has a long campaign ahead of him and he will go out and run his best like he always does.”
Happy Trails has had 11 race starts on tracks rated in the soft or heavy range, but he hasn’t finished in the placings on a wet surface since he finished second behind Shootoff in the 2011 edition of the Group 3 Frank Packer Plate (2000m).
The popular galloper took strong form into the 2015 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival, but he was never able to get into the race on a very heavy track in the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) at Royal Randwick on April 6 before he finished a credible seventh in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at the same venue a week later.
Happy Trails is currently available at 2015 Spring Stakes odds of $7 and he is on the fourth line of betting behind Riziz ($4.80), Richie’s Vibe ($6) and Daytona Grey ($6.50).