Criterion finished third behind Designs On Rome and Military Attack in the Group 1 Hong Kong Cup (2000m) last year, but co-trainer David Hayes is confident that the Sebring entire can turn the tables on his rivals in the 2015 Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Criterion joined the Hayes and Dabernig stable just over a month before he made the trip to Hong Kong for the Group 1 event and Hayes said that there was plenty of guesswork put into the preparation of the four-year-old.
The leading Melbourne trainer told Sky Racing HQ that Criterion has had a far better preparation for the Queen Elizabeth II Cup then he had for the Hong Kong Cup at the end of his 2014 Spring Racing Carnival campaign and he is very confident about the chances of the Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner this weekend.
“I think he is going to go very well,” Hayes said.
“Designs On Rome and Military Attack are the two horses that beat him last time he was here, but it is different circumstances this time.
“He is in terrific form, he is coming off a dominant win and maybe the two locals horses form maybe isn’t as good as it was in December.
“They will be very hard to beat, but I am confident that we can turn it around.
“He nearly didn’t get in the plane because he had a tick wash irritation and we thought it was a colic attack, so he was treating for colic when he didn’t have it, which is not ideal ten days before a big Group 1.
“We went into December guessing a little bit and hoping, but this time we are expecting.
“The routine that we were doing with him going into the last race I was guessing and I didn’t k now whether it would work or not, but this time I am pretty confident with sticking to the same routine.”
The 2015 Queen Elizabeth II Cup barrier draw will be conducted this afternoon and Hayes believes that the barrier draw will be key to the chances of Criterion.
Hayes hopes that Criterion can draw an inside barrier, which will allow jockey Craig Williams to settle the triple Group 1 winner just behind the leaders like he did in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick on April 11.
“I would love to draw inside six and then he might get a run like he had in Australia,” Hayes said.
“It is about 300 metres and it is always is a bit of a logjam and it takes a clever ride.
“Luckily Craig knows it well and hopefully he draws a mid to inside barrier.”
Criterion is currently available at 2015 Queen Elizabeth II Cup odds of $2.80 and is a narrow favourite from Designs On Rome ($6), Military Attack ($6.50), Red Cadeaux ($11) and Smoking Sun ($13).