Criterion has drifted out to 2016 Canterbury Stakes odds of $9, but co-trainer Tom Dabernig remains confident that the star entire can win the Group 1 event at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Criterion finished a gallant third behind Cosmic Endeavour and Catkins in the Group 1 Canterbury Stakes (1300m) last year before he ran second in the Group 1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) and won the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) in an extremely successful autumn campaign.
The Sebring entire performed well without winning during a stint in Hong Kong and the United Kingdom before he returned to Australia to take out the Group 1 Ladbrokes Caulfield Stakes (2000m) and finish in the placings in both the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) and the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m).
Criterion failed to fire in the Group 1 Hong Kong Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin in December last year, but Dabernig is delighted with the way that the five-year-old has returned after a stint in the spelling paddock and he believes he is ready to run a big race in the 2016 Canterbury Stakes this weekend.
“He ran third in this race last year,” Dabernig told Racing Ahead.
“He has put on nice condition and we have been training him like a sprinter for his first-up tilt.
“He is thriving, he came off the farm in Sydney in great order.
“It is only a small field, but it is a quality line-up and Our Boy Malachi and First Seal are not going to be easy to beat.
“I think he will sprint really well fresh and he is going really win.
“We are going into the race with a bit of confidence.”
Criterion will press on to the Group 1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 19 and the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick on April 9 after he runs in the Canterbury Stakes before he is retired to stand at Newgate Farm.
Peter Hayes won the 1992 edition of the Canterbury Stakes with Alishan, while David Hayes finished third with Zabeel in 1991 and Criterion last year.
Criterion is currently available at 2016 Canterbury Stakes odds of $9 with Ladbrokes and he is on the fifth line of betting behind First Seal ($2.75), Our Boy Malachi ($3.30), Kermadec ($6) and Holler ($7.50).