Co-trainer David Hayes is pleased with the condition of champion runner Criterion and is confident he is in the right form for a strong first-up performance in Saturday’s featured 2016 Canterbury Stakes (1300m) at Royal Randwick.
Criterion undoubtedly found career-best form to date through a standout 2015 racing calendar, beginning with his gutsy run for third amongst talented company in the most recent edition of the Canterbury Stakes.
Having finished his Australian campaign in 2015 an impressive third in the Melbourne Cup (3200m), Hayes told Racing Victoria it would be amazing to have a noted distance horse win a Group 1 sprint first-up and is confident that if any horse can achieve the feat, it’s Criterion.
“I think he’s going better than this time than last year when he nearly won it,” Hayes said.
“It would be terrific to have a Melbourne Cup placegetter win a Group 1 sprint first-up, we did that years ago with Jeune and I think this horse is capable.
“For his stallion value we would love him to win a sprint. He could be advertised as a hamburger with the lot, he can do everything this horse.
“I think he will sprint well fresh but of course he’ll be even better and at his peak when he gets to his best distance which is 2000m.”
Criterion has been a strong and consistent performer through his entire racing career since debuting in late 2012; posting a commendable seven wins and thirteen minors through 33 career starts.
Capping a strong 2014 Autumn Carnival campaign with consecutive wins in the Group 1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) and Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m), the Sebring entire continued to impress through the Spring Carnival without posting a win, before a maiden trip abroad heralded an impressive third in the Group 1 Hong Kong Cup (2000m).
Progressing to a close second in the Group 1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) following last year’s Canterbury Stakes, Criterion produced a monumental late turn of foot to overcome some of the world’s best middle-distance horses and win the major Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) by close to three lengths on Day 2 of The Championships.
The 2016 Canterbury Stakes field and barrier draw is due to be completed and released by midday, Wednesday.
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