Often overlooked Group 1 winner Happy Trails has what it takes to run top three in Saturday’s 2015 Peter Young Stakes at Caulfield Racecourse according to his Adelaide-based trainer Paul Beshara.
Good Journey seven-year-old Happy Trails is no stranger to a Group 1 win with three of his own, but always seems to be the forgotten horse in the field.
Saturday on Blue Diamond Stakes Day in Melbourne he faces the reigning Melbourne Cup winner Protectionist second-up in the $200,000 Group 2 Peter Young Stakes (1800m).
The future 2015 Australian Cup betting markets are led by the now Kris Lees-trained Protectionst at $3.60, the German import set to start at the top of the Peter Young Stakes odds first-up too in his first run since winning the ‘race that stops a nation’ last November.
The Peter Young is certainly shaping up as a tough field, but Beshara’s confidence won’t be swayed.
His unheralded galloper Happy Trails has a history of upsetting the big guns with victories in the 2012 Emirate Stakes over Fawkner (2nd) and Secret Admirer (3rd), the 2013 Turnbull Stakes over Puissance De Lune (2nd) and Fawkner (3rd), and most recently the 2014 Mackinnon Stakes over He’s Your Man (2nd) and Farraaj (3rd).
After the Mackinnon win at Flemington last November Happy Trails went out for a spell where he thrived in the paddock before returning at Caulfield a fortnight ago in the Group 1 CF Orr Stakes (1400m).
First-up he ran a credible sixth behind the Peter Moody-trained Dissident who now shoots for the same early autumn double won by stablemate Moment Of Change last year with a victory in this weekend’s Group 1 Futurity Stakes over the same track and distance as the CF Orr.
Happy Trails has been working incredibly well since, surprising even Beshara on Tuesday morning when he flew around Caulfield with Damien Oliver in the saddle running a smart 34 seconds and 22 seconds for his final 600m and 400m sectionals respectively.
“It was a bit quicker than I really wanted but Ollie said he just did it on his ear,” Beshara told the Herald Sun yesterday.
“He’s really come on from his terrific run in the Orr Stakes when he was the only horse to make ground on Dissident over the unsuitably short 1400m.”
This weekend he gets up to 1800m and should relish the extra metres with a run in the Peter Young Stakes trifecta according to Beshara.
“The 1800m on Saturday is more to his liking and I’m sure he will finish in the top three, and is a good chance to win it,” he said.
Happy Trails’ last look at the distance was in last year’s Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield where he ran just a head away second behind Foreteller and has had nine starts at the track in total.
Monsun entire Protectionist meanwhile has had just the one previous Caulfield run when a fast finishing fourth in the Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes (2400m) on debut down under last October, a performance that saw him scoot up the Melbourne Cup odds.
The gun five-year-old trialled well at Newcastle on February 2 winning over 1200m and was given a lazy go around Caulfield yesterday morning to stretch his legs.
He was given a more testing workout today ahead of the Peter Young where he needs to run well over the distance for Lees to continue onto the Australian Cup next month.
Stay tuned for the official 2015 Peter Young Stakes field out shortly.
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