Runner-up in last year’s Cox Plate and heading towards the weight-for-age classic again this spring, the Paul Beshara-trained Happy Trails leads the Spring Stakes 2014 field in Adelaide this weekend.
The Good Journey gelding kicked off their spring campaign last time in at Morphettville when fifth in the $115,000 Group 3 Spring Stakes (1200m) and will again run first-up in the event on Saturday.
Injured in October after a devastatingly close second behind three-year-old winner Shamus Award in the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m), the now seven-year-old Happy Trails has recovered over the past 10 months and is ready to get back to racing.
They trialed at the track last week when a close second over 1000m and again have Cox Plate ambitions having been one of 225 horses nominated for the October 25 classic on Tuesday.
Troy Baker rides Happy Trails in the Spring Stakes, their regular race jockey Dwayne Dunn engaged at Flemington, but will give up the mount to Dunn once the horse kicks off in Melbourne after this.
Happy Trails is the one to beat but they do face some quality competition including the Ken Sweeney-trained Riziz.
A Clare Lindop mount jumping from barrier five, six-year-old Zariz gelding Riziz won their lead-up trial at the track last Friday keeping them fresh off the back of a third to Lord Of The Sky in the Group 3 Sir John Monash Stakes (1100m) at Caulfield early last month.
Group 1 performed when third to Smokin’ Joey in The Goodwood here back in May, Riziz is a three time winner over Saturday’s track and distance and so has to be considered.
There are meanwhile four last start winners in the Spring Stakes field this year including the Richard Jolly-trained Mr Good Cat.
A veteran eight-year-old they improved on an eighth behind Zamorar at Flemington over 1000m on July 26 when returning home a week later to beat home Mr Chard and Daytona Grey in the $50,000 Programmed Property Services Handicap (1100m).
Jolly has also accepted for the rails-drawn Karacatis who is first-up here.
The Hussonet six-year-old, a stakes winner in Melbourne last summer, was last seen running sixth in The Goodwood and come off a third in last week’s Adelaide trials run on a Heavy-rated course.
Also with an inside alley is Ryan Balfour’s Mossman four-year-old Light It Up (barrier two) who comes into the race off the back of some killer form having run top three in their past four runs.
They were third to Riziz in their open trial last week, before which they won in the mud over this track and distance adding to their top record over 1200m here (3-2-1-0).
Kerri McAnulty & Clint Binnie then saddle-up the two other last start winners in Our Littletreasure and Pinky Tuscadero, shooting for their third straight at the track, who are drawn beside each other in barriers seven and six respectively.
Completing the Spring Stakes field are then Outlandish Lad (barrier three) and Leon Macdonald & Andrew Gluyas’ Artie Schiller five-year-old Daytona Grey.
See below for the full David R Coles AM Spring Stakes 2014 field and barriers with betting for the WFA clash to open shortly at Ladbrokes.com.au.
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2014 Spring Stakes Final Field & Barrier Draw
Morphettville Race 7 (4:12pm) – 09/08/2014
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Br.||Wgt.||Hcp. Rating|
|903x57412x||1||HAPPY TRAILS||Paul Beshara||Troy Baker||9||58.5kg||115|
|2||115x11x303||RIZIZ||Ken Sweeney||Clare Lindop||5||58.5kg||103|
|3||134718526x||KARACATIS||Richard Jolly||Jake Toeroek (a)||1||58.5kg||99|
|4||0x688435x5||OUTLANDISH LAD||Dennis O’Leary||Libby Hopwood||3||58.5kg||96|
|5||1086×22513||DAYTONA GREY||Leon Macdonald & Andrew Gluyas||Jason Holder||8||58.5kg||95|
|6||335×324381||MR GOOD CAT||Richard Jolly||Chad Lever||4||58.5kg||88|
|7||2531×43221||LIGHT IT UP||Ryan Balfour||–||2||58.5kg||71|
|8||69×7559191||OUR LITTLETREASURE||Kerri McAnulty & Clint Binnie||Todd Pannell||7||56.5kg||71|
|9||12×834311||PINKY TUSCADERO||Kerri McAnulty & Clint Binnie||Simon Price||6||56.5kg||70|