Co-trainer Tom Dabernig has confirmed that Criterion will likely settle in the first half of the 2015 Melbourne Cup field and he is confident that the weight-for-age star will be able to run out a strong 3200 metres in the Group 1 event at Flemington tomorrow.
Criterion has shown a degree of tactical versatility during his racing career to date and he was settled just off the speed when he took out the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick earlier this year, while he was settled in the second half of the field in both the Group 1 Ladbrokes Caulfield Stakes (2000m) and Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) during the 2015 Spring Racing Carnival.
Dabernig admits that Criterion often struggles to jump from the gates clearly, but he is still confident that the Sebring entire will be able to take up a forward position in the early stages of the 2015 Melbourne Cup.
“There is always a bit of pressure in Melbourne Cup’s heading up the straight for the first time, but I think that is the beauty of drawing that gate,” Dabernig told Racing Ahead.
“He is a horse that can be a bit slow to begin from the gates and he can miss it slightly and that is why he wears a barrier blanket, but over two mile I envision him being in the first half somewhere.”
Criterion has had a unique preparation ahead of the Melbourne Cup and he has not had a stint in the spelling paddock for over a year, but still continues to produce outstanding performances in races like the Ladbrokes Caulfield Stakes and the Cox Plate.
Many racing experts believe that Criterion has little chance of running out a strong 3200 metres in the 2015 Melbourne Cup, but Dabernig said that the stable could not have the five-year-old any fitter and he remains adamant that his star galloper will stay the trip.
“We couldn’t be happier with him,” Dabernig said.
“He won the Caulfield Stakes and in the Cox Plate they broke the track record, so he is in great order.
“He is as fit as we can get him and he has lovely residual fitness and he rarely runs a bad race.
“Although he is on trial at two miles and he is up in the weights a bit, he is a very hard horse to get past at 2000, he can make a long sustained run and he has a good turn-of-foot.
“If he settles in the first half of the field and switches off, like he has been in his races, then I think he will be in it for a long way.
“He is always strong at the end of his races, he is a Derby winner and I can’t see any reason why he wouldn’t.
“He is an amazing athlete and he has a great set of lungs on him.
Criterion is currently available at 2015 Melbourne Cup odds of $14 with Ladbrokes and he is on the fourth line of betting behind Fame Game ($4), Trip To Paris ($8.50) and Preferment ($11).
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