Trainer Paul Beshara has confirmed last year’s Cox Plate runner-up Happy Trails, who targets the 2014 edition of the weight-for-age major again this spring, will gear up for their new season debut with an Adelaide trial this Friday.
Good Journey gelding Happy Trails will face off against stablemate Richie’s Vibe in the 1000m hit-out at Morphettville, both gallopers back in Beshara’s care.
After being charged by stewards for the injection of an unknown substance into one of his horses on Dato Tan Chin Name Stakes Day last November, the runners in his stable spent a spell with various other trainers.
He spent six months serving a disqualification but is now back on track and ready for a big spring with stars including Happy Trails who had one run with Byron Cozamanis.
“He has come back as good as gold,” Beshara told the Herald Sun this week.
“We are both back after a bit of R and R.”
Richie’s Vibe meanwhile also had a run with Cozamanis from Caulfield before Tony Vasil took over their preparation that included a Group 2 Australia Stakes (1200m) win at Moonee Valley this January.
Happy Trails meanwhile enjoyed a stellar Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival campaign last year.
They won the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington before their second to Shamus Award in the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) in October.
There was only a nose separating the six-year-old runner-up and the three-year-old upset Cox Plate winner, an effort Beshara is hoping Happy Trails can emulate or go one better than this season.
The $3 million Cox Plate runs at Moonee Valley Racecourse on October 25 and Happy Trails currently pays $15 in the futures markets at Ladbrokes.com.au to win.
All-in odds are led by the Gai Waterhouse-trained Carlton House ($9) and will be updated next Tuesday after Cox Plate nominations close.
Beshara, who ran Happy Trails and Richie’s Vibe against each other in an exhibition gallop over the 1000m at Morphettville last Saturday also, said the duo would likely clash first-up.
He’s looking at the Group 3 Spring Stakes (1200m) back at Morphettville on August 9.
Happy Trails will then continue onto the season’s opening Group 1 with the $400,000 Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on August 30 followed by runs in the Underwood and Turnbull Stakes before their second Cox Plate bid.
Get in on the early Cox Plate betting action online now at Ladbrokes.com.au and enjoy a bonus welcome bet on the house valued up to a generous $250!