Zac Purton has revealed that he believes Criterion will prove tough to beat in the 2015 Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Sha Tin on Sunday after he partnered the Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner in trackwork this morning.
Purton will ride Military Attack in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup, but he was asked by trainer David Hayes to ride Criterion in trackwork on the outside of the course proper at Sha Tin.
Criterion ran home in 24.2 seconds without being asked for an extra effort by Purton and the leading Hong Kong-based hoop told The South China Morning Post that he was most impressed with the feel that he received from the Sebring entire.
“He wasn’t out there to do anything too drastic,” Purton said.
“He just worked over half a mile and I let him quicken up in the straight.
“He is a very relaxed horse, he is very professional, he has does everything right and he is a beauty to ride.
“He quickened up nice, he gave me a good feel and I think he is going to be very hard to beat on the weekend.”
Hayes admitted that it was unusual to have Purton gallop Criterion just four days before he takes him on in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup, but he said that he wanted a jockey that he trusted to make sure that the four-year-old did not work too hard at trackwork this morning.
The leading trainer believes that Criterion has absolutely thrived since he arrived in Hong Kong just over a week ago and he is confident that the triple Group 1 winner is better prepared for the Queen Elizabeth II Cup then he was for the Group 1 Hong Kong Cup (2000m) in December.
“It is like sleeping with the enemy,” Hayes joked.
“I know that Zac is very good with his times and I didn’t want the horse to do too much.
“Craig can’t get here until the weekend .
“I was very happy with the way that he rode the horse and as you can see he is very relaxed and has settle in.
“He is like me – he likes Hong Kong.”
Criterion is currently available at 2015 Queen Elizabeth II Cup odds of $3.10 with Ladbrokes and he is on the second line of betting behind Hong Kong Gold Cup winner Designs On Rome.