Securing entry into next month's Cox Plate will be extra incentive for South Australian galloper Happy Trails to add to his impressive weight-for-age form at Moonee Valley on Saturday.
Happy Trails is among 19 entries for the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes and trainer Paul Beshara hopes the Group Two can shape the five-year-old's spring campaign.
"How he handles the Valley on Saturday will decide where we go for the rest of the spring," Beshara said.
"He's never really handled it in the past but he's finished no further back than fourth there and he's shown that he's a lot more mature now.
"I'd expect him to be OK but if not we'll go to the Caulfield Cup instead."
Happy Trails resumed to win an Adelaide weight-for-age race last month, leaving Saturday's Makybe Diva Stakes winner Southern Speed in the minor placing.
But Beshara says a real measure of his improvement as a five-year-old was evident when he finished second in the Memsie Stakes.
"I thought his run was outstanding behind Sincero," Beshara said.
"He did a lot of work to get outside the leader and then he went for home 600 metres out."
Winning Saturday's $300,000 race carries the bonus of a ballot-free entry into the Cox Plate.
"You get a ticket to one of the biggest races in the country which is hard to knock," Beshara said.
Three Dato entries - Rekindled Interest and stablemates Ethiopia and Ulundi - have been nominated to gallop at Moonee Valley on Tuesday morning.
In spite of Happy Trails' past indifference to the saucer-like track, Beshara sees no value in a cross-town trip from his Caulfield base.
"It's not worth floating him over there when I can keep him at Caulfield where he's nice and relaxed," Beshara said.
Missing from Saturday's race will be impressive first-up winner Chase The Rainbow.
The Rick Hore-Lacy-trained four-year-old will have scans on Tuesday to reveal the full extent of an injury discovered after a track gallop last week.
Chase The Rainbow won last year's Bill Stutt Stakes over Saturday's course and his return win had Hore-Lacy talking up the grey's Caulfield Cup chances.