Happy Trails will pick up where he left off when he attempts to add the year’s first Group One to his last-start Mackinnon Stakes win.
Trainer Paul Beshara is stepping up the seven-year-old’s workload ahead of the C F Orr Stakes on February 14 at Caulfield.
Happy Trails often flies under the radar when the A-graders are mentioned, but in each of the past three seasons he has managed to collect a Group One trophy.
Beshara sent Happy Trails for a short spell following his win in the Mackinnon (2000m) at Flemington on November 1 and the horse returned to the stable a few weeks later.
After the C F Orr Stakes (1400m), Happy Trails’ program will be the Peter Young Stakes (1800m) a fortnight later as a lead-in to the Australian Cup (2000m) on March 14.
He will then head to Sydney for The Championships and the $4 million Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on April 11.
Beshara hasn’t ruled out a start in the Doncaster Mile (1600m) a week earlier, but weight will be the deciding factor.
“We’ll throw in a nomination and see what they come up with,” Beshara said.
“If we can get into the Doncaster with a good weight we’d go with it, but he wouldn’t want to be carrying a train.
“He’ll have a jump-out and a trial before the Orr but that’s still a month or so off.
“He’s just up to doing evens at this stage.”
Beshara said it would not take too long to get Happy Trails up to peak fitness with the gelding spending time on the walker during his break before going out into a paddock during the day.
“We put him on the walker everyday as he gets older as he needs a bit of exercise,” Beshara said.
Besides his three Group One victories – all at Flemington – Happy Trails finished second in the 2013 Cox Plate and sixth last year, beaten less than a length.
In all Happy Trails has won seven of his 45 starts and collected more than $2.8 million prize money.