Cox Plate day won’t feel the same without Happy Trails.
On Saturday nine-year-old Happy Trails will make his seventh, and most likely last, visit to Moonee Valley to run at the 2016 Cox Plate meeting.
The South Australian veteran contests his fifth consecutive Cox Plate after lining up in support events as a younger horse.
Trainer Paul Beshara says he’s proud to have Happy Trails represent his stable in the Cox Plate.
“He’s raced against some of the best horses in Australia, and beaten some of the best,” Beshara said.
“They’ve all retired but he’s still going.”
Beshara puts Happy Trails’ longevity down to the one-on-one attention the gelding receives.
“In a bigger stable he might have fallen through the cracks,” Beshara said.
“Nothing against the big stables but if you’ve got 100 plus horses, you’ve got to push through them.
“We look after him very well.
“His legs are iced every day. He’s well pampered and shampooed, he’s walked and everything’s done for him.
“Being a small stable we can put a lot of time into him.
“He’s got a very good bond with me and I think that works.”
Beshara says his track rider tells him Happy Trails is going as well as ever.
But with every start Beshara says Happy Trails is nearing retirement.
“I would say this is just about his last preparation,” Beshara said.
“The first signs he shows that he doesn’t want to do it any more he’ll be retired and then he’ll go off as a show horse.
“I’d never embarrass him. Even if he was trying and couldn’t be competitive, we’d retire him.”
For Beshara, victory in the Cox Plate with Happy Trails would be the pinnacle of his career.
“To me it’s the champion race of the world,” he said.
COX PLATE DAY FOR HAPPY TRAILS
2010 – Second in Group Three Red Anchor Stakes
2011 – Fourth in Group Two Waterford Crystal Mile
2012 – 10th to Ocean Park in Cox Plate
2013 – Second (beaten a half-head) to Shamus Award in Cox Plate
2014 – Sixth to Adelaide in Cox Plate
2015 – 10th to Winx in Cox Plate