Happy Trails will be in an unfamilar role for his Turnbull Stakes defence.
Mostly an underdog in big races, the $2 million earner is at single-figure odds in a Group One race for the first time in his career.
Trainer Paul Beshara admits there’s more pressure than when the gelding is flying under the radar heading into feature races.
But he is confident his stable star is nearing his peak and can make it back-to-back Turnbull wins on Saturday at Flemington.
“You’ve got more pressure on you because everyone is tipping you. A lot of people say `you’ve just got to go around (to win), and this and that’,” Beshara said.
“I’ve been in the game that long and I’ve seen that many certainties go down. So it’s better off if you can come in as just an average chance.”
But Beshara never lacks faith or confidence in his horse.
“Well I think he’s a certainty anyway,” he said.
“But I’m very biased with him. I always think he’s good.”
Happy Trails won last year’s Turnbull as a $26 shot while his 2012 Emirates Stakes success was at $13.
He was at $10 when beaten narrowly in the Underwood Stakes last start in a performance which exceeded Beshara’s expectations and convinced him the gelding was on target for the Turnbull and Cox Plate.
This time Happy Trails is challenging for favouritism at $6 in Turnbull Stakes betting.
Beshara is aiming Happy Trails to peak in the Cox Plate later this month.
“He’s 95 per cent there. The Turnbull should just turn him right on,” he said.