Criterion is set to make his weight-for-age debut in the 2014 Warwick Stakes at Royal Randwick this afternoon and jockey Hugh Bowman is looking forward to seeing how the talented four-year-old stacks up against the older horses in the Group 2 event.
Criterion has not been seen at the races since she scored a tough win in the Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) at Royal Randwick on April 12, but has impressed trainer David Payne with his work at home and a fast-finishing third place finish in a barrier trial over 1030 metres at Rosehill Gardens on July 21.
Payne is eyeing the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 25 with the two-time Group 1 winner and Bowman is hoping that the son of Sebring produces a performance in the Warwick Stakes that suggests he is up to the level required to be competitive in the Australasian Weight-For-Age Championship.
“I have only been on his back once this preparation and that was when he galloped between races at Rosehill,” Bowman told Sky Racing HQ this morning.
“The horse to the eye looks magnificent and I am as interested as everyone else to see how he races today and what prospects he has for the spring.
“Obviously, David has high expectations of him and it will be nice to see him come back today to see whether he can justify that.”
Criterion won the Group 2 Todman Stakes (1200m) and was far from disgraced in both the Group 1 Golden Slipper (1200m) and Group 1 Champagne Stakes (1600m) as a two-year-old and was placed at the highest level of racing in the Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) during the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival.
The talented entire finished second behind Shamus Award in the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington on March 1 earlier this year before he scored a dominant three and a half lengths in the Group 1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 29 and backed that up with a win in the Australian Derby a fortnight later.
Criterion has recorded two wins from as many starts on rain affected surfaces, but has not recorded a first-up win since he won on debut in the Lidoran Group Plate (1100m) at Rosehill Gardens on November 3.
Sacred Falls ($3.40) remains a narrow favourite in 2014 Warwick Stakes betting markets from Weary ($3.80), while Criterion is available at Warwick Stakes odds of $7.50.