Cox Plate winning jockey Chad Schofield has beaten a star lineup of jockeys to secure the ride on Criterion in the Group 1 £525,000 The Prince Of Wales’s Stakes (1 mile, 2 furlongs) at Royal Ascot June 17.
The mount on Criterion became available when first choice, top international jockey Frankie Dettori, knocked back the ride because of his commitments with the John Gosden stable.
Top Melbourne jockey Craig Williams look to have the front running over Damien Oliver following is recent association with the David Hayes and Tom Dabernig trained four year old.
Williams had been aboard Criterion at his last three outings for a second to Real Impact in the Group 1 $1m George Ryder Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill on March 21 followed by a win in the Group 1 $4m Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on April 11, the second day of ‘The Championships’.
Williams then followed Criterion to Hong Kong where the pair ran third behind Blazing Speed and Staphanos in the Group 1 HK$20m Audemars Piguet QEII Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin on April 26.
Oliver was also in the mix as he will be at Royal Ascot to ride the Gai Waterhouse trained Wandjina in the Group 1 £525,000 The Diamond Jubilee Stakes (6 furlongs) at Royal Ascot on June 20, the last day of the five day Carnival.
But Williams hasn’t missed out on an appearance at Royal Ascot and has been booked to ride Brazen Beau for trainer Chris Waller in the The Diamond Jubilee Stakes.
Schofield has been in England for the past month based at Ed Dunlop’s Newmarket stables and been the regular trackwork rider for Criterion since he arrived from Hong Kong, and this played heavily in the decision to book the young rider for The Prince Of Wales’s Stakes.
Criterion will be taking on some of the best gallopers in the world and Hayes, who arrived in England earlier in the week, says that he fully acknowledges the huge task facing the Sebring stallion.
“But it’s so hard assessing these good horses from all countries,” Hayes told The Herald Sun.
“He’s got to be at his absolute A grade. He’s got to be to be as good as he was in Sydney to be competitive and I think he will be competitive.
“It’s just how he compares to America’s best, Ireland’s best, England’s best and France’s best.
“It’s an absolutely true international race.”
Hayes was on hand to watch Criterion work at Newmarket on Wednesday morning and was more than please with what he saw.
“Physically, I think he’s very similar to when he won the Queen Elizabeth,” Hayes said.
“I think we’re in really good shape.”
The Prince Of Wales’s Stakes has a truly international flavour with the Dermot Weld trained Irish galloper Free Eagle, Japanese Group 1 winner Spielberg, high class American four year old California Chrome, top English performer The Grey Gatsby, French gallopers Ectot and Cirrus des Aigles among the entries.
Criterion is well in the betting at Ladbrokes.com.au and has firmed into $8 for The Prince Of Wales’s Stakes behind the top pick of Free Eagle at $4.50.
The Grey Gatsby is marked at $9 alongside of Ectot and Western Hymn with California Chrome next in the market order at $11.