Cox Plate Target for Happy Trails After 2012 Spring Stakes Win

Paul Beshara is setting the bar high with Happy Trails after the five-year-old scored the first stakes win of his career in Saturday’s Group 3 2012 Spring Stakes (1200m) at Morphetville.

In a field that also included Caulfield Cup winner Southern Speed and 2009 Melbourne Cup entrant Alcopop, Happy Trails produced an impressive first-up performance to take top honours ahead of Gossip Girl.

The son of Good Journey showed impressive finishing ability as jockey Jason Holder peeled around the field and he accelerated down the centre of the track.

Beshara said he was excited about Happy Trails’ spring campaign and confirmed he would be targeted at some of the carnival’s major Group 1 events including the $3 million 2012 Cox Plate.

“He’s much more mature in the head now,” Beshara said.

“I really believe he’s a Group 1 horse and I’ve got everything crossed we’ll see that this time.”

The Adelaide-based gelding signalled his potential for bigger things in the autumn when he ran fourth in the Doncaster Prelude before producing an excellent closing sectional to run sixth in the prestigious Doncaster Mile.

Despite having recorded just three wins from 24 starts, Happy Trails has always shown talent, having placed ten times including three times at stakes level.

Caulfield Cup champion Southern Speed also sent an ominous warning to her spring rivals, finishing strongly to take third-place honours.

The Leon Macdonald-trained mare started poorly and was blocked for a run at numerous stages in the straight but it was clear she will have plenty to offer this spring as she sprinted between runners to fly home.

The Southern Image five-year-old will again be targeted at the Caulfield Cup but Macdonald has not ruled taking her to the Cox Plate.

Southern Speed will have the second run of her campaign in Saturday week’s Penny Edition Stakes at Morphetville before heading to Melbourne.

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Spring Stakes 2012 – Results

Finish No. Horse Trainer Jockey Margin Bar. Weight Starting Price
1 3 HAPPY TRAILS Paul Beshara Jason Holder 10 58.5kg $4.20
2 10 GOSSIP GIRL Jim Mason Daniel Moor 0.2L 7 56.5kg $10
3 9 SOUTHERN SPEED Leon Macdonald & Andrew Gluyas Ms Clare Lindop 1L 2 56.5kg $3F
4 5 JUSTIFY THAT Peter Moody Ms Libby Hopwood 1.7L 3 58.5kg $17
5 4 THE EIGHTH MAKER Lloyd Kennewell Paul Gatt 1.9L 5 58.5kg $6
6 2 DIPLOMATIC FORCE Wayne Nichols Craig Robertson 2.7L 9 58.5kg $9
7 1 ALCOPOP Jake Stephens Dom Tourneur 3.6L 8 58.5kg $17
8 11 LIGHT EXPRESS Michael Hibbs Darren Gauci 4.1L 1 56.5kg $10
9 6 CANDLE Tony McEvoy Matthew Neilson 5.3L 4 58.5kg $31
10 7 BERTUCCI Lloyd Kennewell Chad Lever 7.8L 6 58.5kg $51
11 8 DRIFTING SPIRIT Darren Egan Ms Melanie Tyndall (a) 11.8L 11 58.5kg $301