Adelaide horse Happy Trails gets a chance to atone for his narrow second in last year’s $3 million Cox Plate when he returns to Moonee Valley Saturday.
The $12 chance, trained by Paul Beshara at Morphettville, has taken a similar path to this year’s Plate and is in good nick, Beshara says.
Off the scene since last spring, Happy Trails returned to racing locally in August and then headed to Melbourne where his recent three length fifth in the Caulfield Stakes suggests he’s on track to have a crack at Australia’s richest weight-for-age race.
Happy Trails was beaten a nose by Shamus Award in 2013 and this year’s field isn’t as strong.
The presence of northern hemisphere horses Adelaide, Side Glance and Guest Of Honour makes the field interesting, with the Irish Aiden O’Brien-trained Adelaide having the best form of that group.
Highly-regarded New Zealand trainer Roger James has Silent Achiever in the race – his first Cox Plate runner.
Silent Achiever has been unplaced in three spring starts to follow a pattern of disappointing form during last year’s carnival.
But she has won at Moonee Valley in the 2012 Group Two Crystal Mile – her only Melbourne victory in her only start at the track.
James thinks that is as significant as the return of Nash Rawiller to ride the mare for the first time this spring.
Rawiller won the Ranvet Stakes and BMW in Sydney on Silent Achiever in the autumn and James said the jockey was enthusiastic about reuniting with the mare.
“The beauty of having Nash is he knows her capabilities and he’s getting on with that thought rather than the thought of her recent starts,” James said.
James admits the mare’s form suggests she’s not going as well as she was in the autumn.
“Somebody said to me the other day if Carlton House, Fiorente Horseform or Dundeel were in the race they’d probably be favourite,” James said.
“They said she beat all three in the autumn, so if you can have her in the same order as the autumn you’ve got to be right amongst it.
“The question is, have I got her in the same order? I think I have.”
Most betting interest to date has been for Sacred Falls at $6 and the favourite Fawkner at $4.20.
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