Brenton Avdulla will ride Criterion for the first time in the Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick tomorrow and believes that the three-year-old is good enough to win the Group 1 event.
Criterion made a slow start to his 2013 Spring Racing Carnival campaign, finishing eleventh in both the Group 3 The Run To The Rose (1200m) and Group 1 Golden Rose (1400m), but returned to his best form with a narrow second place finish behind Eurozone in the Group 2 Stan Fox Stakes (1500m).
The son of Sebring has raced throughout his career like a horse that will appreciate a staying trip and Avdulla is confident that the colt will relish the step up to 2000 metres this weekend.
“He is a horse that has a lot of ability, it is his fourth run in and David has him fit,” Avdulla told Sky Racing HQ.
“I don’t think 2000 metres is much of a concern, I think he has been looking for a trip, and I’m really happy to be riding him.
“Every run he has attacked the line and every time he has stepped up in trip he has finished closer to the winner.
“Obviously it is a Group 1 on Saturday but I think that I am on a horse that is a good chance run in the first four.”
Criterion has missed the jump throughout his racing career but Avdulla does not believe it will be a problem tomorrow and plans to settle the David Payne-trained colt at the back of the field.
“He has missed the start probably seven times out of the nine times that he has gone,” Avdulla said.
“It is just a little habit that he has gotten it to.
“We have drawn seven of fourteen so we have a split line and hopefully they put me in last.”
Criterion is currently well down 2013 Spring Champion Stakes betting markets at odds of $14; with Spring Stakes winner Savvy Nature ($3.50) a narrow favourite from Peter Snowden-trained Complacent ($4.80), Dulcify Quality winner Rock Hero ($5.50) and the unlucky Drago ($7.50).