Having saddled the talented stayer to an impressive third in the Group 1 Hong Kong Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin in early December, trainer David Hayes is thrilled with the returning condition of Criterion and is confident of a successful first-up tilt in Saturday’s Group 1 Canterbury Stakes (1300m) at Randwick.
Posting a commendable race record of five wins and a further eight minor place finishes from his 23 competitive appearances on course so far, Criterion has completed several strong pieces of trackwork in the lead-up to his 2015 return and was most impressive when attacking the line at Sandown a fortnight ago.
Thrilled with the Sebring entire, Hayes told Sky Racing HQ he is particularly confident of Group 1 success over autumn and believes he is more than a chance of a maiden spring crown in the 2015 Canterbury Stakes.
“His gallop was terrific and we have taken a view to present him a bit fresh on Saturday,” Hayes said.
“We want to peak him hopefully for the Queen Elizabeth, but I think that he will sprint well fresh.
“He is a classy horse; he has a huge action and a good attitude.
“I think that he might race better on the Sydney leg, even though he is very effective in Melbourne, but I think that in Sydney he is brilliant.
“He spent three weeks at a box just box walking, which is very common in Hong Kong, and then he came on and I put him out in the paddock during the day and brought him in at night.
“We gave him water walking exercise on his downtime.
“Hopefully he will sprint well fresh.”
Returning for fourth in the Group 3 CS Hayes Stakes (1400m) before placing a close second to Shamus Award in the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) upon resuming in 2014, Criterion was disappointing when eighth in the Group 1 Randwick Guineas (1600m) on March 15th, but responded in the best way possible in taking out each of the Group 1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) and Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) in succession.
Returning in spring for third in the Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m), the stallion out of Mica’s Pride beat just one runner home in the Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m), but again responded well in finishing a close second in each of the Group 2 Hill Stakes (200m) and Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m), and was unlucky to place seventh in a fanning finish in the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m).
The 2015 Canterbury Stakes final field and barrier draw is due to be completed and released by midday, Wednesday.
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