Co-trainer David Hayes has confirmed that Criterion will press on to the 2015 Melbourne Cup after his brave second behind Winx in the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on Saturday.
Criterion went into the Cox Plate on the third line of betting following his impressive win in the Group 1 Ladbrokes Caulfield Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield on October 10 and he was settled in a lovely position by jockey Michael Walker after he missed the start, but he was badly checked at the 450 metre mark when Winx shifted to the inside of The Cleaner and he lost all his momentum.
The Sebring entire was no match for Winx in the final stages of the race, but he was still able to find the line strongly to finish a more than credible second in a time that would have broken the previous track record held by Might And Power.
Hayes was disappointed that Criterion was unable to record his fifth Group 1 victory in the Cox Plate, but he was still pleased with the effort of the five-year-old and he believes that the Australian Derby winner deserves to be rated as one of the leading chances in the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) that will be held at Flemington on November 3.
“I can’t understand why he is not at single-figure odds after the Cox Plate,” Hayes told the media.
“He has broken the previous track record himself, so he would have won any other Cox Plate.
“If he had won, he would be favourite.
“He just ran into a freakish performance and Michael believes he should have finished closer if he didn’t lose his momentum at 500m mark.”
Criterion was bred to win a Golden Slipper, not to run out a strong 3200 metres, but he showed his staying ability when he hit the line strongly to finish fourth behind Polanski in the 2013 edition of the Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m) and he went on to win the Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) during the 2014 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival.
Hayes said that Criterion gives him every indication that he will be able to settle in the early stages of the Melbourne Cup and he believes there are plenty of similarities with his 1994 Melbourne Cup winner Jeune.
“They are worried about him at the trip because he has not been there before, but he has not failed at the trip either,” Hayes said.
“I went home on Saturday a bit disappointed because he didn’t win, but when you look at the race he beat the rest of them easily and has a real speed in his legs.
I’m very confident that he is really ready to stay the trip because he has always showed that he can relax and let go with a sprint.
“We just need to keep him together for the next week.”
Criterion is currently available at 2015 Melbourne Cup odds of $15 with Ladbrokes and he is on the fifth line of betting behind Japanese stayer Fame Game ($4), Caulfield Cup runner-up Trip To Paris ($7.50), Caulfield Cup winner Mongolian Khan ($8) and last year’s Melbourne Cup placegetter Who Shot Thebarman ($13).