Last year’s Cox Plate runner-up Happy Trails has been confirmed as a Caulfield Stakes starter with Damien Oliver to ride.
The gelding, who won the Turnbull Stakes at Flemington 12 months ago before going straight into the Cox Plate, was luckless in this year’s edition of the 2000m race at Flemington on Saturday and trainer Paul Beshara said he needed to run again.
Happy Trails beat just two horses home in the Turnbull, finishing almost seven lengths from the winner Lucia Valentina, after failing to get clear running at any stage of the race.
He was reported to have dirt in his trachea post-race which Beshara said would have no bearing going into the 2000m Caulfield Stakes seven days later.
And connections will be hoping for a change of luck with Oliver replacing Michael Rodd on the seven-year-old. It will be the first time Oliver has ridden the gelding since they combined to win the Group One Emirates Stakes at Flemington in November, 2012.
“After Saturday in the Turnbull he pulled up too well,” Beshara said. “It was only like a gallop for him.
“He can’t go to the Cox Plate underdone.
“He really needs a good hit-out and then it’s a fortnight to the Cox Plate.
“That’s our goal.”
Beshara said it was the owners’ decision to replace Rodd with Oliver.
“The owners, they like Damien,” Beshara said. “They’ve been friends over a number of years and they want him on.
“I’ve had plenty of jockeys jump off my horses before.”
Beshara said he would have Happy Trails scoped again on Wednesday to make sure there were no residual effects from the dirt found in his trachea.
“It was nothing to worry about,” Beshara said.
“A few of the horses had some on the day. He was boxed in and getting that thrown back at him.
“The vets came down after the race and put him on different medications which helps to get rid of it.
“It takes two or three days to get out of them. I’ll get him scoped again on Wednesday, but he should be all fine.”