A noted performer over minor events throughout the Victorian racing circuit this time in, exciting three-year-old Happy As Hell will undoubtedly face his biggest test to date when lining up for this weekend’s Group 1 Queensland Derby (2400m).
Overcoming poor running to position to finish a fighting third in the TVN BM90 (2400m) at Sandown last time out, co-trainer Terry O’Sullivan is confident Happy As Hell has received the ideal lead-in to this weekend’s Group 1 at Eagle Farm, and is optimistic of success for the gelding in what will be his maiden tilt at the highest level of Australian racing.
“I ran him Saturday just to assess where we’re at. If he didn’t have run him well at Sandown on Saturday we were going to abort the trip, but we thought he went good enough to warrant a chance,” O’Sullivan told RVN.
“He came home from Sandown Saturday night and just licked the bin out. Not many horses would do that; usually a solid run like that they’d just take a couple of days to get over it, but he was as bright as a button on Sunday morning, so I’m pretty confident he’ll back-up fairly well.”
Yet to contest an event outside his native Victoria, Happy As Hell reportedly handled the flight to Brisbane well and will be in peak condition when lining up for the 2014 Queensland Derby.
“He was a little bit fired up once the other horses got off the plan, but he’s settled down really good. He travelled well,” O’Sullivan said.
“He’s up at the Gold Coast at Johnny Smerdon’s stable and he arrived there safe and sounds.”
Claiming three wins and three places from just 12 competitive race starts to date, Happy As Hell was a standout performer over the 2013 spring; securing two victories back-to-back and finishing an unlucky second in the Ken Sturt 3.y.o (2000m) on Boxing Day.
Continuing to build in form and class over his current preparation, Happy As Hell is currently given little chance of success in the 2014 Queensland Derby, offered at generous $61 for success at Ladbrokes.com.au.
Strolling home to win the Group 3 Grand Prix Stakes (2200m) last time out, Vilanova has claimed outright favouritism for the 2014 Queensland Derby, currently offered at a quote of $3.80, ahead of Elusive Runner ($4.80), Pinstripe Lane ($4.80) and Telepathic ($9.50).
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