Trainer David Payne has revealed that he will be leaving the 2013 Victoria Derby field position up to leading jockey Craig Williams but admits that his promising three-year-old will need a bit of luck to record this maiden Group 1 victory.
Criterion has raced at Group 1 level four times and has run into bad luck on all four occasions; getting caught too far back in the field in the Golden Slipper (1200m) and Champagne Stakes (1600m) as a two-year-old before storming home late to finish second behind Complacent in the Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) at his last start.
The Sebring colt was unlucky at the Victoria Derby barrier draw on Wednesday and will need plenty of luck in the running after drawing barrier 14 but Payne is hopeful that Williams is good enough to put the three-year-old in a strong position.
“He is spot-on and now he just needs some luck,” Payne told Racing Ahead on RSN.
“I think that his dangers are all drawn out there and we are all going to need a bit of luck.
“I think that those three are the class horses of the race and I am just going to leave it to Craig.
“He will see how the race unfolds and make a decision from there.”
Criterion will be stepping up to 2500 metres for the first time when he takes his place in the 2013 Victoria Derby field and, although his breeding indicates otherwise, Payne is confident that the Todman Stakes winner will run out the trip strongly; admitting that he has always believed that Criterion was a staying type.
“Every time we have stepped him out, the jockey has come back and said that he wants a bit further,” Payne said.
“Even in the Spring Champion (over 2000 metres) he was one of the fastest finishes.”
Payne has deliberately given Criterion a three week break into the Victoria Derby, which he believes has suited the promising colt perfectly, and is expecting him to produce his typical fighting effort at Flemington this weekend.
“He is a horse that I wouldn’t back-up and it has worked out perfectly, the three weeks gap,” Payne said.
“He has always stuck to his guns and he is very experienced.
“If all goes well, it will work for him.”
Criterion will be Payne’s third ever runner in the Victoria Derby; with the second place finish of Praecido, behind Lion Tamer in 2010, his previous best result in the race.