Australian Derby winner Criterion will be set for the 2015 Group 1 $4m Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick during the Sydney Autumn Carnival following his third in Hong Kong on the weekend.
Criterion with Hugh Bowman in the saddle led the field into the straight and dashed away at the 250m before getting run down by the back makers Designs On Rome (Joao Moreira) and Military Attack (Zac Purton) in the Group 1 HK$25m Longines Hong Kong Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Top Australian trainer David Hayes has only been in charge of Criterion since taking over from Sydney trainer David Payne at the end of the Melbourne Spring Carnival and the Hong Kong Cup was his first run for the stable and first start since finishing fifth to Happy Trails in the Group 1 $1m Longines Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on November 1.
Hayes said that he would now spell the Sebring stallion before preparing him for the weight for age Group 1 $1m George Ryder Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill on March 21 and the weight for age Queen Elizabeth Stakes on the second day of ‘The Championships’.
Hayes, who trains in partnership with Tom Dabernig, said that he was thrilled with the effort of Criterion and got excited when he dashed to the front in the straight.
“He has run one hell of a race,” Hayes told Racing Network.
“I got a little excited watching from the stands. I was in my lucky spot, I probably went a little early but this horse has done a tremendous job.
“I’m still learning about this horse and David (Payne) can take a lot of credit but we’ve kept him fresh for this, got him happy and he performed accordingly.”
Bowman said that he had Criterion travelling on the pace after the four year old began better than normal from an outside barrier.
“It was a brave performance and one that everyone concerned should be very proud of,” Bowman said.
“Designs On Rome and Military Attack are serious horses, as good as they get in Hong Kong. The winner won the Derby this year and Military Attack is an international Group 1 winner.
“Criterion came across at the end of his campaign. It was well documented that he had a few issues but he proved he’s a top-class horse at this level.”
In early markets for the Queen Elizabeth Stakes Criterion is marked as s $17 chance with Cox Plate winner Adelaide heading the betting at $6 with Melbourne Cup winner Protectionist at $7.