Criterion failed to complete the first Australian Derby/Cox Plate double since 1986 on Saturday but the son of Sebring has bigger goals on the horizon.
It’ll be all systems go for Payne Racing in the next month, as the four-year-old horse is set to represent Australia in the $HK25 million ($A3.3 million) Hong Kong Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin on December 14 following a tilt in the $1 million Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) at Flemington this Saturday.
Trainer David Payne confirmed the news with Racing Network on Monday morning.
“He has pulled up really well from the Cox Plate on Saturday,” Payne started.
“He’ll now go to the Mackinnon next week then we’ll be going to Hong Kong, where he will run in the Hong Kong Cup.”
The multiple Group 1 winner was a good chance at winning the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) on Saturday after drawing a start from barrier six (the most successful barrier in the race since 1983) however nothing ended up going his way and he finished seventh to Adelaide; the upside was he was just 1½ lengths off the winner.
“The horse had nothing go right for him on Saturday,” Payne said.
“He missed the jump, then Silent Achiever got him on the first turn, then the international horse (Guest of Honour) just dropped back on to him, and he still managed to finish a length from the winner.”
Criterion proved he was an international-standard Group 1 horse at Caulfield on Saturday, which helped determine his place in the 2014 Hong Kong Cup.
The Mackinnon Stakes will be good preparation for the four-year-old, as the nominations feature an internationally-dominate field. Just five of the 24 entries got their start in Australia.
A rider has not been booked to ride Criterion in the Mackinnon Stakes as of yet, with regular hoop James McDonald partnering Rising Romance. Payne doesn’t believe there will be any shortage of top jockeys keen to ride his dual Group One winner home.
“(James) McDonald is booked so we’ll organise a rider during the week – it won’t be a problem,” he said.