Trainer David Payne has revealed that Australian Derby winner Criterion will be set for a tilt at both the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) and Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) during the 2014 Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival.
Criterion stamped himself as the best three-year-old stayer in Australia with a tough win over Tupac Amaru and Hooked in the Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday and Payne said that the son of Sebring would head to the spelling paddock for a well-deserved break.
Criterion is now on top of 2014 Melbourne Cup betting markets, but Payne told RSN that he would prefer to target the Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate rather than ‘the race that stops a nation’ with the talented three-year-old.
“He will definitely go the paddock,” Payne said.
“I spoke to the owner last night and the races that I would like to target in Melbourne are the Cox Plate and the Caulfield Cup.
“I think that we will miss the Melbourne Cup.
“It will be a bit tough for him this year and we can always look the year after.”
No Australian Derby winner has gone on to win the Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate or Melbourne Cup since Sky Heights took out the Caulfield Cup in 1999, but Payne is confident that there is still plenty of improvement in front of Criterion and believes that the talented entire can be competitive against older horses at the highest level of racing.
“Just looking at him he is getting stronger each preparation and in the ring yesterday he looked like he had put on the weight that he has always needed,” Payne said.
“I think that he will put on another 50 kilos and be an even stronger horse.”
Criterion has raced consistently at the highest level of racing throughout his career, but was unable to score a maiden win at Group 1 level until he took out the Rosehill Guineas (2000m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 29.
Payne said that he was always confident that Criterion would be able to record a win at the highest level of racing and from a very early stage he felt that the three-year-old would be a better horse over an extended trip.
“If you looked at him as a two-year-old he was a very lean horse and he just struggled, but always put his best foot forward,” Payne said.
“He ran in the Australian Guineas and I said that he wouldn’t really show his true potential until he gets to the final two runs of his preparation.
“He always showed us that this is what he is looking for.”