The 2014 Cox Plate odds of Criterion have shortened in the last 24 hours and trainer David Payne is thrilled with the talented entire heading into the Group 1 event at Moonee Valley tomorrow.
Criterion opened at a quote of $8 in 2014 Cox Plate betting markets when the final field was released on Tuesday and drifted out to $9 on Wednesday, but he has been very well supported in the last 24 hours and is into $7 to complete the Australian Derby/Cox Plate double.
The Sebring entire made a good start to his 2014 Spring Racing Carnival campaign when he finished a tough third in the Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick on August 23, but he finished a disappointing seventh in the Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) at Royal Randwick on September 6 and did not look like a potential Cox Plate winner when second in the Group 2 Hill Stakes (2000m) at the same venue on September 20.
Criterion was sent to Melbourne for the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m) and started at the generous odds of $17, but stormed home late to finish second behind Fawkner and stamp himself as a genuine Cox Plate contender.
Payne told RSN this morning that he has been happy with the 2014 Cox Plate lead-up form of Criterion and he said that the four-year-old had come on from his strong effort in the Caulfield Stakes.
“He came through well,” Payne said.
“That was the first time that he had ever seen Caulfield, he hadn’t galloped there at all, and he just went straight to the track and it was a good effort.
“He has peaked at the right time and that is what we were hoping.
“He has really blossomed.”
Criterion was one of the big winners of the 2014 Cox Plate barrier draw that was conducted on Tuesday morning and he will jump from barrier six with in-form jockey James McDonald in the saddle.
Payne said that he will be leaving the riding instructions up to McDonald and expects to see Criterion settled in the middle of the Cox Plate field, but does not want McDonald to fall into the trap of only following favourite Fawkner into the race.
“That is just where we want him and now we just have to leave it up to James,” Payne said.
“He has to pilot him home.
“I think that would be the plan (to follow Fawkner), but you have to be careful because there are other horses as well.
“You can follow the wrong horse sometimes, but I will leave it to James and I think there is going to be a bit of speed in the race which will suit us as well.”
Criterion has been included in the entries for the Group 1 Hong Kong Cup (2000m) that will be held on the Hong Kong International Raceday on December 14, but Payne does not plan on taking the stallion prospect overseas and hopes to set him for the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) in the autumn.
“We have got him nominated for Hong Kong at the owners request, which I am not keen on and I doubt that we will go there,” Payne said.
“We will keep him for the autumn and the Queen Elizabeth, which is a nice race for him next time.
“A few studs have already been after him and I am sure that is where he will head.”
Fawkner remains on top of the 2014 Cox Plate betting market with Ladbrokes and is a narrow favourite from Adelaide ($6.50) and Criterion ($7).