Australian Derby winner Criterion will be tested at weight for age for the first time when he lines up in the Group 2 $175,000 Warwick Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on Saturday.
Rosehill trainer David Payne will get a good idea how Criterion will handle the step up against the older horses at weight for age as he heads towards the Group 1 $3m Sportingbet Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 25.
“We will get a good line on him in this race,’’ Payne told The Daily Telegraph.
Criterion was one of the stars of the Sydney Autumn Carnival with wins in the Group 1 $500,000 TAB.com.au Rosehill Guineas (2000m) at Rosehill and in the Group 1 $2m BMW Australian Derby (2400m) at Randwick on the first day of ‘The‘Championships’.
Payne expects a forward showing from the Sebring stallion and is not perturbed by the prospect of another wet track in Sydney on the weekend after both Criterion’s Group 1 wins in the Autumn were on slow and heavy tracks.
“He handles the wet so I’m not overly concerned if he does happen to strike a slow or heavy track first-up on Saturday,” Payne said.
“He’s had a good preparation, a couple of (exhibition) gallops and a barrier trial, so he’s ready to go.’’
Payne was impressed with the quality of horses that the Warwick Stakes has attracted and know the job ahead will be tough.
“The Warwick Stakes field is an indication of how competitive it is in Sydney racing,’’ Payne said.
“The entries are unbelievable. It will be a very strong race.’’
Ten Group 1 winners are included in the eighteen entries for the Warwick Stakes with Chris Waller providing five, Boban, Hawkspur, My Kingdom Of Fife, Royal Descent and Sacred Falls.
Joe Pride‘s two entries Laser Hawk and Tiger Tees are both Group 1 winners as is Peter Moody’s Dissident and Kris Lees’ Lucia Valentina.
Top Sydney jockey Hugh Bowman will again be aboard Criterion after collecting the two major prizes during the Sydney Autumn Carnival.
Payne has dismissed the thought of running the four year old in the Group 1 $2.5m BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) and the Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) and is content to concentrate on the Cox Plate.
“He won the Derby on class,’’ Payne said.
“They can do that as three-year-olds but I think he is too brilliant and the Cox Plate is his race.
“He is a 2000m horse and that will be as far as he runs this spring.’’
Criterion is marked as a $19 chance in early betting for the Cox Plate with Ladbrokes.com.au.
Multiple Group 1 winning Kiwi mare Silent Achiever heads the market order at $11 just in front of Irish galloper Adelaide at $13 while Hong Kong Group1 winner Dan Excel, English galloper Mukhadram and dual Doncaster Mile winner Sacred Falls, all share the next line of betting at $15.