Trainer Paul Beshara is brimming with confidence pre-2015 Australian Cup this weekend with his evergreen veteran Happy Trails in peak fitness for the Group 1 Flemington run.
A triple Group 1 winner, seven-year-old Good Journey gelding Happy Trails is after a quartet of elite level victories when he takes on a crack field on ‘Super Saturday’ in the $1 million Group Australian Cup (2000m).
His last victory was in the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on Victoria Derby Day last November that rounded out another solid campaign from the honest stayer.
The Mackinnon Stakes win broke a notable drought for Happy Trails who hadn’t won since the previous spring’s Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m), after which he ran second to Shamus Award in the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m).
The galloper’s other Group 1 win was in the 2012 Emirates Stakes over the Flemington mile giving him three Group 1 victories in as many years, and he doesn’t look like slowing down any as he approaches his eight-year-old season.
“He may be seven but he doesn’t know or feel his age. He is thriving and I reckon he will be right in the finish (on Saturday),” Beshara told the Herald Sun.
This time in he goes into the Australian Cup field third-up following two good resuming runs at Caulfield.
The first was a sixth to Dissident in the Group 1 CF Orr Stakes (1400m) on February 14 before his game second when three-quarters of a length off fellow seven-year-old Mourinho in the Group 2 Peter Young Stakes (1800m) a fortnight later.
Most of the Peter Young Stakes graduates back-up in the Australian Cup this weekend including the Peter Gelagotis-trained winner, as well as beaten favourite Protectionist – the reigning Melbourne Cup winner having run sixth in his first run for new trainer Kris Lees.
Lees was concerned pre-Peter Young about the 1800m first-up for German import Protectionist and is also wary about Saturday’s 2000m believing the proven two-miler is already crying out for the mile-and-a-half (2400m).
Beshara meanwhile can’t wait for the Australian Cup with Happy Trails who is a dual winner form four previous runs over the 2000m at Flemington.
Top hoop Damien Oliver has ridden Happy Trials for his past five runs and stays on this weekend shooting for back-to-back Australian Cup wins following his victory aboard the Gai Waterhouse-trained 2013 Melbourne Cup winner Fiorente 12 months ago.
Oliver rode Happy Trails for a Tuesday morning gallop over 1800m, the final 400m run in 24 seconds, and his post-hit-out report was full of positives.
“Ollie rode him this morning and said he is peaking at the right time,” Beshara said yesterday.
“It was nice, soft work that should top him up nicely for his return to his favourite track and distance,”
The Australian Cup 2015 field is due out shortly so stay tuned.
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