Criterion produced an outstanding performance to record a most impressive victory in the 2015 Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Royal Randwick this afternoon.
Criterion jumped from the gates strongly and Craig Williams was able to settle the Sebring entire just behind the leading duo of Fiveandahalfstar and Aomen in the early stages of the race.
Williams went for home on Criterion at the top of the straight and he absolutely exploded when he was asked for an extra effort to score a very strong win in the 2015 Queen Elizabeth Stakes from a typical gallant Red Cadeaux and consistent mare Royal Descent.
“For me I was fortunate to be on a really good horse.
“I rode him as a two-year-old that long ago and I was grateful to get the opportunity.
“David Hayes was that confident that he just said ‘Craig just ride him like a good horse’ and he raced like a good horse.
“My job sitting on top was nice and comfortable.
“We rode him positively and he handles the track conditions most importantly and he did the rest.
“All I had to do was just cuddle him and he delivered a really nice blow today.”
Criterion started his racing career under the care of David Payne and he won two Group 1s under the care of the leading trainer, but he was transferred to the care of David Hayes and Tom Dabernig at the end of his 2014 Spring Racing Carnival ahead of his trip to Hong Kong for the Group 1 Hong Kong Cup (2000m) where he finished third behind Designs On Rome and Military Attack.
Hayes said that he is absolutely thrilled to be able to train a horse with the quality of Criterion and he was delighted to win the Queen Elizabeth Stakes for the first time since he took out the 1995 edition of the race with Jeune.
“We were talking about him a couple of weeks ago Jeune, they are a similar colour, they have the same sort of action and they are both high class horses,” Hayes said.
“We are just so excited to have a horse of this ability and it is a real honour.
“Initially I didn’t know and Sir Owen Glenn just said ‘David will you take it because you have been to Hong Kong for ten years and you know Hong Kong and do you think he will be the type of horse that goes well there’ and I just played with him for a couple of weeks and I rang him after his first couple of weeks and I said he is definitely good enough.
“He hit the front at the 500 I think and normally you are a sitting shot, but I think that Craig had to go because the horse took him there.”
Criterion was included in the entries for the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin on April 26 and Hayes confirmed that the four-year-old would likely make the trip before heading to Royal Ascot for a tilt at the Group 1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes (2000m).
“He is a true, elite Group 1 horse and he is going back to Hong Kong if he pulls up well next week and then hopefully to Ascot because he has done everything a horse can do in Australia,” Hayes said.
“One of my dreams is to take an Australian older horse and do a reverse of what they have done for us, which is win all our staying races and I would love to take him there and compete in a 2000 metre race there.”
Red Cadeaux was arguably unlucky not to finish closer to the winner after being blocked for a run for the majority of the straight and Ed Dunlop teases that the veteran stayer will likely return to Australia later this year for a fifth tilt at the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m).