Adelaide-based trainer Paul Beshara is gearing up for a massive Melbourne and Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival raid with his multiple Group 1 winner Happy Trails who will round out his next campaign in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes 2015.
Winner of the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) last start at Flemington on Derby Day, November 1, Good Journey seven-year-old Happy Trails will be set for plenty more elite level targets when he returns next year.
It had been a long time between drinks for Happy Trials before his Mackinnon Stakes triumph, the middle distance stayer not having won a race since the Turnbull Stakes 12 months earlier for his second Group 1 success following a 2012 Emirates Stakes victory also at Flemington two years ago.
Runner-up to Shamus Award in that year’s Cox Plate, Happy Trails was also defeated under a length in Australasia’s weight-for-age championship this spring when sixth behind Irish raider Adelaide.
Injury ruled the horse out of the autumn features this year as he spent over nine months on the sidelines from October last year until his return this August.
Last year however he was competitive in his final autumn assignment, improving on a 10th to Sacred Falls in the 2013 Doncaster Mile to finish third behind the ill-fated Reliable Man in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick.
The race was only worth $500,000 in prize money that year but in 2015 the Queen Elizabeth Stakes will be worth an incredible $4 million.
Due to run as one of four Group 1s on Sydney Cup Day on April 11, the weight-for-age classic is also the end-of-campaign aim for Happy Trails.
Back in work and officially gearing up for his return, the popular gelding on Tuesday reentered Beshara’s Morphettville stables after a five week spell at Belvedere Stud south-east of Adelaide.
“I keep his fitness level up while he’s out,” Beshara said.
“He goes on the walker and has a walk every day for half an hour and then goes out in the paddock. It just keeps him ticking over nice.
“He’s just the same horse. The last three years he’s won a Group 1, so he keeps fronting up.”
Leading into the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, Beshara plans to give the galloper a couple of earlier runs in Melbourne before returning to Sydney.
He will run in the $400,000 Group 1 Futurity Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on February 28 and then race at Flemington a fortnight later in the $1 million Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) leading into the lucrative Sydney feature.
“He’s had five weeks in the paddock and did well, so it’ll be just nice to get him back,” Beshara told Racing Victoria.
“He comes back into work today and I’ll get him ready for Melbourne.
“He’ll go to the Futurity then into the Australian Cup and then I’ll go up to Sydney with him for the Queen Elizabeth.”
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