Co-trainer David Hayes has confirmed that Criterion will press on to the 2015 Royal Ascot Meeting after he finished a gallant third in the 2015 Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Sha Tin on Sunday night.
Criterion jumped from the gates extremely well in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup and jockey Craig Williams elected to press forward aggressively in the early stages of the race before Same World to come across and take up the running.
The Sebring entire was unable to cruise away from his rivals when asked for an extra effort by Williams, like he did in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick on April 18, and he was caught in the final 100 metres of the race by Blazing Speed and Stephanos, but he was still able to hang on bravely to finish third – the same position that he finished when he made his Hong Kong racing debut in the Group 1 Hong Kong Cup (2000m) in December.
Hayes revealed after the race that he felt Criterion overraced in the early stages of the race because he was unable to find cover, but the leading trainer said that he was still happy with the performance of the four-year-old and he confirmed that the triple Group 1 winner would head to England tomorrow to begin preparations for a tilt at the Group 1 The Prince Of Wales’s Stakes (2012m) on June 17.
“He couldn’t get cover and he was a little bit keen,” Hayes said.
“Craig Williams said he didn’t want to get stuck in behind leader, Same World, who was a big outsider, so he came two wide and probably that didn’t suit the horse as well as having cover.
“It was still a brave effort, two weeks after running in Sydney and having travelled in between.”
Criterion stamped himself as one of the most exciting stallions prospects in Australia when he took out the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, but owner Sir Owen Glenn is keen to race on the four-year-old and he will be set for races like the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) and Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) during the 2015 Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival before he is given the opportunity to defend his title in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
Criterion is currently available at 2015 Cox Plate odds of $9 with Ladbrokes and is on the second line of betting behind Godolphin import Contributer ($8).