Talented globetrotter Criterion has stamped himself as a Cox Plate favourite in his Australian return this afternoon; mustering a big turn of foot in the final straight to take out the Group 1 Ladbrokes Caulfield Stakes (2000m).
Criterion continued to receive huge support in the hours leading up to jump at Caulfield this afternoon, and did his chance for success no harm when jumping well and settling off the pace of early leaders Entirely Platinum, Fawkner and Pornichet.
Forced wide rounding onto the final straight, jockey Michael Walker allowed Criterion to steady before winding him up; the Sebring entire immediately responding when asked for an extra effort and producing a big turn of foot to finish ahead of Happy Trails and Mongolian Khan.
2015 Caulfield Stakes results appear as though they could fall in any direction this afternoon with seven of the eight runners confirmed in the race’s final field have previously saluted at the highest level.
Talented four-year-old Kermadec is yet to contest a race over a distance of 2000m, but his resounding win in the Group 1 George Main Stakes over a mile in September suggests he will be perfectly suited to the conditions this afternoon and is a leading chance to top 2015 Caulfield Stakes results.
Kermadec capped a short but impressive debut preparation with success in the Group 3 Carbine Club Stakes (1600m) at Flemington last November, and returned this year for a credible fourth in the Group 3 Eskimo Prince Stakes (1400m) and third in the talent-rich Group 2 Hobartville Stakes (1400m).
Unlucky to be hampered for a run when fourth in the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m), the Teofilo colt responded well in placing third amongst open company in the Group 1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) before breaking through for a maiden win at the highest level in the featured Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) on Day 1 of The Championships.
Having quickly built to the task in placing fifth in the Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m) and second in the Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) leading into his George Main Stakes triumph, Kermadec will be partnered by returning hoop Glen Boss but will have to overcome the outside barrier to finish at the right end of Caulfield Stakes result.
Fawkner has continued to receive steady support to return to the winner’s circle this afternoon and is arguably best positioned in barrier 4 to claim an upset Caulfield Stakes result.
The winner of the 2013 Caulfield Cup, Fawkner continued to impressive through a standout 2014 Spring Carnival campaign highlighted by success in the Caulfield Stakes and a close second in the Cox Plate.
Having delivered a handy field defeat in the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) first-up this time, the Reset gelding finishing an agonizingly-close second to Mourinho in the Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) a fortnight ago.
Craig Williams has picked up the ride on Fawkner in place of the suspended Damien Oliver, and the in-form hoop is confident he can help guide the popular grey towards the top of 2015 Caulfield Stakes results.
Pornichet and Criterion are both Group 1 winners over the distance and offer the best value for money to finish at the fore of Caulfield Stakes results at their current quotes in betting markets.
French import Pornichet took a couple of runs to find form upon resuming this time but ended his autumn and winter campaign in style when comfortably taking out the Group 1 Doomben Cup (2000m).
Three-time Group 1 champion Criterion delivered a particularly talented field a resounding defeat in the major Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) on Day 2 of The Championships and has since performed commendably in some of the world’s standout middle distance races aboard, including the Juddmonte International (2092m) at York.
Kermadec remains favourite at 2015 Caulfield Stakes odds of $3.10 at Ladbrokes ahead of Fawkner ($4) and Pornichet ($6.50).