Happy Trails will try to snap a 16-month absence from the winner’s stall when he has another crack at an Australian Cup at Flemington.
The Paul Beshara-trained eight-year-old hasn’t won in 14 starts since his 2014 Group One Mackinnon Stakes victory over the 2000m at Flemington.
He will attempt to better his third-place finish from last year’s Australian Cup (2000m) in Saturday’s weight-for-age race at the third run of his campaign.
Happy Trails has been unplaced in his two lead-up races but Beshara hopes the gelding is ready to show something on Saturday.
“This was his goal,” Beshara said.
“So he’s quite fit now and everything is going well.
“We’ve got a nice barrier in eight, Dwayne Dunn is on, so everything should go well on Saturday.”
Dunn takes over from Jamie Kah who Beshara said elected to remain in Adelaide to ride on Saturday.
Beshara said while Happy Trails had not won for a while, he kept paying his way.
“He keeps making money, running a lot of placings,” Beshara said.
“I expect he’ll run in the first three there again on Saturday.”
Beshara respects all the opposition and expects a tough race with a host of proven Group One performers lining up.
Happy Trails finished seventh in the Peter Young Stakes last start in which Godolphin’s Bow Creek stamped himself as the Australian Cup favourite when he produced a breathtaking finish.
Beshara felt Happy Trails might have settled a little too close to the lead.
“When he’s close in a race he just tends to run at the one pace,” he said.
“He doesn’t seem to sprint. He needs to be back in the field and then he’ll sprint home.”
Bow Creek is at $3.20 and has drawn the outside barrier in the field of 11, one outside of dual Flemington Group One winner Preferment who is at $7.
Second favourite Our Ivanhowe ($5) has the inside barrier while Suavito ($9), one of three mares in the field, has barrier five.
Connections of Australian Guineas winner Palentino decided against backing the three-year-old up a week after his Group One win.
A trip to Hong Kong to contest the QEII Cup late next month is the plan for Happy Trails.
The weather will determine whether he also contests the Queen Elizabeth Stakes in Sydney before heading to Hong Kong with Happy Trails not effective on soft tracks.