Punters got the 2014 Australian Derby result that they were after; with Criterion scoring a brave win in the Group 1 event at Royal Randwick this afternoon.
Criterion stamped himself as the Australian Derby favourite with a dominant win in the Rosehill Guineas a fortnight ago and he proved himself as a star stayer with a grinding win over Tupac Amaru and Hooked.
Jockey Hugh Bowman settled Criterion on the fence, a touch closer to the lead than he did in the Rosehill Guineas, and the son of Sebring looked as though he lost a length coming around the final turn as Bowman attempted to get the three-year-old off the fence.
Darley colt Tupac Amaru stormed to the lead at the 400 metre mark, but Criterion was able to respond to the challenge and, along with Hooked, cleared away from the rest of the field to record his second victory at Group 1 level.
Trainer David Payne admitted that Criterion was purchased to win a Golden Slipper rather than an Australian Derby, but was delighted to claim his first career win in the $2 million event with a horse that he believes could still have improvement in front of him.
“He is only becoming a horse now; he was very weak, but if you look at him now he has furnished and that makes a different,” Payne said.
“He (Hugh Bowman) said to me that he wasn’t going to change tactics, but all I said to him was get off the fence.
“He pushed out and still couldn’t really get a wind up, but he won and that is the main thing.
“He has never been better.”
Bowman has an exceptional record in the Victoria Derby, winning the race with Lion Tamer, Sangster and Polanski in the past four years, but had never previously tasted success in the Australian Derby.
The leading Sydney hoop said that he went into the race full of confidence and believed that he was on the strongest stayer in the Group 1 event.
“I am just so proud to have won this race and I’m so happy for Sir Owen Glenn and of cause David Payne.
“He has raced at the highest level his whole campaign and he broke through for a dominant win two weeks ago and we were very confident here today.
“The rain only made me more confident because he showed me what he can do on an affected ground two weeks ago and he didn’t let me down.
Bowman received a dream run on the rails with Criterion in the Rosehill Guineas and the race was run to suit, but he knew that he would not have as much luck in the Australian Derby and did his best to position the three-year-old in a forward position.
“I was mindful not to overdo and I wanted to ensure that I had the horse in a nice comfortable rhythm as I did two weeks ago,” Bowman said.
“I was mindful that the pace wouldn’t be as strong and I tried to hold my ground from barrier one and I was able to do that without being too assertive.
“It was just a case of finding run and I thought Hooked was going to put down a legitimate challenge and I was a bit worried, but at the 200 my horse just went to another level and I am just so proud.”