Australian Derby winner Criterion continues to settle into his new surroundings as he prepares for the Group 1 HK$25m Longines Hong Kong Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Criterion and Australia’s representative in the Group 1 HK$18.5m Longines Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) Buffering, arrived in Hong Kong on last Tuesday.
New trainer David Hayes is confident that Criterion will be fit to have his first start for the stable in the Hong Kong Cup after he left Australia under a fitness cloud.
It was thought that Criterion has suffered a colic attack on the Sunday night prior to the flight to Hong Kong but was allowed to board the plane by government officials after being passed fit by Hayes’ vet.
But once in Hong Kong it was discovered that Criterion didn’t suffer a colic attack but reacted to the tick shampoo that he was washed with in preparation for the trip when he broke out into a skin rash.
The Sebring four year old hasn’t been asked to do a lot of hard work while he recovers from the set back and only completed light work again this morning at Sha Tin.
“He was a bit stressed when he arrived here but I’m happy with him now,” Hayes told the Hong Kong Jockey Club Racing News.
“His coat’s healthy, he’s well hydrated and he looks good.”
Hayes, with co-trainer Tom Dabernig, took over the training for Criterion from Sydney trainer David Payne after the stallion ran fifth to Happy Trails in the Group 1 $1m Longines Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on November 1.
His two previous Melbourne Spring Carnival runs saw him runner up to Fawkner in the Group 1 $400,000 Cathay Pacific Caulfield Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield on October 11 followed by a close up seventh to Adelaide in the Group 1 $3m Sportingbet Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 25.
“Obviously he’s new to me but we know the horse and he’s a very good mover, pretty classy,” Hayes said.
“I won’t work him too hard this week. I’ll trust him as you should do with a good horse.”
“He had two solid runs in the space of seven days, in the Cox Plate and the Mackinnon Stakes so he came here fit.”
“I’m quietly confident he’ll acquit himself well. He’s a Derby winner, going right handed at home, and his recent form’s probably better than it looks.
“He didn’t have much luck in the Cox Plate and was only a length and a half off them and the really firm track was against him in the Mackinnon at Flemington.”
Criterion is currently marked as a $10 chance for the Hong Kong Cup with the market order headed by the local pair of Designs On Rome at $3.80 and four times Group 1 winner Military Attack at $4.
Other Hong Kong betting sees Farraaj at $6, Blazing Speed at $7.50, Cirrus Des Aigles at $9, Archimedes at $12, Meiner Lacrima at $15, Endowing and California Memory at $21, Pleasure Gains at $26, Helene Super Star at $67 and Same World at $101.