Trainer David Hayes has set an ambitious overseas campaign for Criterion after his dominant win in the Group 1 $4m Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick last Saturday.
Criterion with Criag Williams aboard cleared away in the straight to score a two and a half lengths win over the well travelled Red Cadeaux with the Chris Waller trained Royal Descent a further one and quarter lengths away in third spot.
Hayes, who trains in partnership with his nephew Tom Dabernig, will head to Hong Kong with Criterion to contest the Group 1 HK$20m Audemars Piguet QEII Cup (2000m) a Sha Tin on April 26 on his way to Royal Ascot in June.
The Hall Of Fame trainer has yet to confirm which race he will target at Royal Ascot but will choose between the Group 1 £375,000 The Queen Anne Stakes (1 mile) on June 16 or the Group 1 £525,000 The Prince Of Wales’s Stakes (1 mile, 2 furlongs) the next day.
“It depends on the horse and whether there are any superstars about over there, targeting either of those races,” Hayes told the Herald Sun.
“The month’s gap between Hong Kong and Ascot is perfect for him. If he’s nice and fresh he’d run in the 1600, or he could run in the 2000 if that suited better.”
“The beauty is the horse was only third-up in the Queen Elizabeth. He’ll be fourth-up in Hong Kong, fifth-up at Ascot.’’
Hayes has always had a dream to take a home grown, home trained horse to England to claim a middle distance trophy in the way that the Australian sprinters have achieved in recent times, including the win of Black Caviar in the 2012 Group 1 £500,000 The Diamond Jubilee Stakes (6 furlongs) at Royal Ascot.
“For years we’ve proved how good our sprinters are over there (at Royal Ascot) and it’s always been on my bucket list to take an Aussie horse and win one of their big middle-distance races,’’ Hayes said.
“So You Think and Haradasun did it, but they were trained by (Aidan) O’Brien.
“Elvis (Elvstroem) did it, but he won in Dubai and not in Europe. I’d be thrilled to train a true Aussie-bred and win one of those fair dinkum races at Royal Ascot.’’
“There are Group 1 horses and there are international-class Group 1 horses. I think he is international class, especially if he gets a wet track.”
Criterion will be making his second trip to Hong Kong after performing creditably when third behind local stars Designs On Rome and Military Attack in the Group 1 HK$25m Longines Hong Kong Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin on December 14 last year.
Queen Elizabeth Stakes runner up Red Cadeaux is also nominated for the QEII Cup and the pair look likely to clash again in Hong Kong.
Hayes is also keen to tackle the Group 1 $3m Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley in October during the 2015 Melbourne Spring Carnival.