The 2015 Caulfield Stakes nominations have released and Criterion is set to make his return to Australian racing in the Group 1 event that will be held at Caulfield on Sunday.
Criterion has not been seen in Australia since he destroyed a quality field to take out the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick on April 11, but he has since performed credibly against some of the best horses in the world in both Hong Kong and England.
The Sebring entire started his international journey with a fighting third behind Blazing Speed and Staphanos in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin on April 26 before he fought on bravely to finish fifth behind Free Eagle in the Group 1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes (2011m) at Royal Ascot on June 17.
Criterion only beat a single horse home in the Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes (2092m) at York on August 19, but he finished within five lengths of subsequent Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Golden Horn and did not have a great deal of luck in running.
The five-year-old returned to Australia with the first planeload of international 2015 Spring Racing Carnival contenders that arrived in Melbourne last Saturday and he will finish his stint in quarantine before he runs in the Caulfield Stakes on Saturday.
Criterion is then set to press on to the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 24 and could potentially step-up to two miles for the first time in his racing career in the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on November 3.
The triple Group 1 winner will need to perform at his very best to take out the Caulfield Stakes on Saturday as a number of the most talented weight-for-age gallopers in Australia have been included in the nominations for the $400,000 race.
Chris Waller-trained Kermadec started his 2015 Spring Racing Carnival campaign with a credible fifth place finish in the Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick on August 22 and he was beaten again in the Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) on September 5 before he stamped himself as the next Cox Plate favourite with an impressive win in the Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m) at Royal Randwick on September 19.
Pornichet finished third behind Kermadec in the George Main Stakes, but he will have the chance to turn-the-tables on his rival when they make the step-up to 2000 metres.
The other key form race for the 2015 Caulfield Stakes is set to be the Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) that was held at Caulfield on September 26.
Fawkner was narrowly denied by Mourinho, but he will have the chance to return to winning form and defend his Caulfield Stakes title, while Contributer and Mongolian Khan will come out of the same race.
The 2015 Caulfield Stakes nominations are rounded out by Victoria Derby placegetter Bondeiger, Team Hawkes-trained Entirely Platinum and veteran gelding Happy Trails.