Trainer David Hayes was more than pleased with Criterion’s final gallop before he takes on the world’s best middle distance weight for age horses in the Group 1 HK$25m Longines Hong Kong Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin on December 13.
Criterion with race jockey Craig Williams in the saddle, galloped with stablemate Orator before the first race at Moonee Valley last Saturday and was never pushed out to run 11.04 secs for the final 200m.
Williams agreed with Hayes that the work was just what they had expected and the five year old was showing no signs of a tough Melbourne Spring Carnival campaign.
“He was so relaxed early and then his response to my urgings was sharp,” Williams told The Herald Sun.
Criterion flew out to Hong Kong yesterday with Hong Kong Cup rivals Lucia Valentina and Mackinnon stakes winner Gailo Chop and the Chris Waller trained Preferment who will be contesting the Group 1 HK$16.5m Longines Hong Kong Vase (2400m) at Sha Tin on the same day as the Cup.
Hayes, who trains in partnership with Tom Dabernig, said that Criterion is a seasoned traveller and as well as having raced twice in Hong Kong before, has also made the trip to England this year for two Group 1 appearances.
“Since I got him after the Flemington carnival when he ran in the Mackinnon Stakes last year, he has had two runs in Hong Kong, two in the UK, and six runs in Australia. And he knows all about travelling, seems to thrive on it,” Hayes said.
“I know about him now, unlike last year when we were all learning.”
“He is a better horse now than when he finished third in his two Hong Kong runs and I expect he can win.”
Criterion has performed well at the top level in three countries with four Group 1 wins in Australia, two placings in Hong Kong and two creditable performances in the UK.
As a three year old Criterion was the star of the 2014 Sydney Autumn Carnival with wins in the Group 1 $500,000 TAB.com.au Rosehill Guineas (2000m) at Rosehill and in the Group 1 $2m BMW Australian Derby (2400m) at Randwick.
He then returned to Sydney twelve months later to win the Group 1 $4m Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick and continued his Group 1 winning form into the Spring with a win in the Group 1 $400,000 Ladbrokes Caulfield Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield.
Criterion then held his form with a second to Winx in the Group 1 $3m Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley followed by a third to Prince Of Penzance in the Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington.
Criterion’s two trips to Hong Kong have produced a third placing in the 2014 Hong Kong Cup and another third in the in the 2015 Group 1 HK$20m Audemars Piguet QEII Cup (2000m) a Sha Tin in April.
Hayes then took the Sebring stallion to England where he ran fifth in the Group 1 £525,000 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes (1 mile, 2 furlongs) at Ascot, England, on June 17 followed by a sixth in the Group 1 £900,000 Juddmonte International Stakes (1 mile 2 furlongs 88 yards) at York on August 19.
Hong Kong Cup market order at Ladbrokes.com.au: $4.60 Free Eagle, $4.80 Designs On Rome, $5.50 Criterion, $8 Nuovo Record, $11 Gailo Chop, $12 Staphanos, $13 Beauty Only, Military Attack, $15 Blazing Speed, Lucia Valentina, $26 A Shin Hikari, Satono Aladdin, $51 Free Port Lux, $101 Dan Excel.
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