Triple Group 1 winner Criterion has impressed trainer David Hayes in his first serious piece of trackwork since his brave fifth place finish behind Free Eagle in the Group 1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes (2012m) at Royal Ascot on June 17.
Criterion was sent for a break in a paddock following the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes last month, but he has now returned to the stable of leading British trainer John Gosden where Hayes’ son Ben is currently working.
Hayes is currently in the United Kingdom on a working holiday and he went to Gosden’s Newmarket-based stable to watch Criterion work over 1600 metres and he said that he is thrilled with the condition of the four-year-old following his short break.
“He has pulled up beautifully after the gallop,” Hayes said.
“He has had a nice healthy blow, but he is really starting to tune up.
“I think that the English summer has really helped him, he has a magnificent coat and I couldn’t be happier with him.”
Criterion will have his workload increased in the lead-up to his return to racing in the Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes (2012m) at York on August 19 and he is set to take on the likes of Epsom Derby winner Golden Horn, Prince Of Wales’s Stakes rival Free Eagle, last year’s runner-up The Grey Gatsby, Epsom Oaks winner Qualify and Irish 1000 Guineas winner Legatissimo in the highly-rated race.
The rising five-year-old will then return to Australia with the first planeload of European 2015 Spring Racing Carnival contenders and he will contest the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield on October 10 and the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 24 before he potentially makes the step-up in trip to 3200 metres for the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on November 3.
Criterion has only recorded one race win during his four-year-old season, but his victory was a dominant performance against a high-quality field in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) and he finished in the placings in the Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m), Group 2 Hill Stakes (2000m), Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m), Group 1 Hong Kong Cup (2000m), Group 1 Canterbury Stakes (1300m), Group 1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) and Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Cup (2000m) in Hong Kong.
Criterion is currently available at 2015 Cox Plate odds of $10 with Ladbrokes and he is on the third line of betting behind equal favourites Able Friend ($9) and Contributer ($9).