Australia’s hope in the Group 1 £525,000 The Prince Of Wales’s Stakes (1 mile, 2 furlongs) at Royal Ascot today, Criterion, is not regarded as one of the top fancies in the market order with British bookmakers.
Ladbrokes in England have Criterion marked as a 10- 1 chance in The Prince Of Wales’s Stakes field that has been reduced to nine runners with the scratching of the Art Sherman American galloper California Chrome because of a hoof injury.
The Dermot Weld trained Free Eagle heads the betting in the UK at 3-1 ahead of French galloper Ectot at 5-1 with Cannock Chase, The Grey Gatsby and Western Hymn all at 6-1 in a crowded market.
The betting is fairly similar at Ladbrokes Australia except there is a little bit more support for Criterion from his loyal followers with the David Hayes and Tom Dabernig trained four year old listed at $9.
Ladbrokes.com.au also have Free Eagle at the top of the market order at $4 ahead of Ectot at $6 with Cannock Chase, The Grey Gatsby and Western Hymn all at $7.
Hayes has been in England for the past week supervising the preparation of Criterion and said it would be one of Lindsay Park’s greatest achievements to win a race over the Royal Ascot Carnival, but admits it won’t be easy.
“It would be as good as anything that the stable has done,” Hayes said.
“I have been watching the Aussies come here and do so well in the sprints and I have always thought that if I had a horse that might be good enough it would be great to take the English on at their own game in the middle distances.”
“It is going to be a very hard task, it is a great field with horses coming from everywhere, but all I can say is that my horse is really healthy and I have been very happy with his work.”
Criterion has raced at the top level since his two year old days but had to wait until his three year old season before he collected his first Group 1 trophy with a win in the $500,000 TAB.com.au Rosehill Guineas (2000m) at Rosehill during the 2014 Sydney Autumn Carnival.
The Sebring colt then followed that up with a win in the Group 1 $2m BMW Australian Derby (2400m) at Randwick two weeks later.
But his most recent form is what cemented his trip to Royal Ascot and after winning the Group 1 $4m Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on April 11, the second day of ‘The Championships’, Hayes put the plan together.
A stopover in Hong Kong on the way to England saw Criterion run third to Blazing Speed in the Group 1 HK$20m Audemars Piguet QEII Cup (2000m) a Sha Tin on April 26 and Hayes has been very pleased with the way the flashy chestnut has settled into his new surroundings at Newmarket.
Talented young Australian jockey Chad Schofield has been given the ride on Criterion replacing Craig Williams who had ridden the stallion at his previous three starts, including the win in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes.