Leading form expert Adam Blencowe has Criterion on top of his 2015 Cox Plate tips and he believes that the talented entire is the horse to beat in the Group 1 event that will be held at Moonee Valley on Saturday.
Criterion finished a credible seventh behind Adelaide in the Cox Plate 12 months ago, but it is fair to say that the five-year-old has gone to another level since he joined the Lindsay Park team at the end of 2014.
The Australian Derby winner made his debut for Lindsay Park with a third behind finish behind Designs On Rome and Military Attack in the Group 1 Hong Kong Cup (2000m) in December and he returned to Australian racing with placings in the Group 1 Canterbury Stakes (1300m) and the Group 1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) before he proved far too good for his rivals in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) during the 2015 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival.
Criterion returned to Hong Kong to finish third in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (2000m) and he was far from disgraced in the Group 1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes (2012m) and Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes (2092m) against some of the best horses in the world in the United Kingdom, but he returned to winning form with a fast-finishing victory in the Group 1 Ladbrokes Caulfield Stakes (2000m) on October 10.
Blencowe told Radio TAB that Criterion is yet to produce a bad performance since joining Lindsay Park and he believes that the four-time Group 1 winner should start the 2015 Cox Plate as favourite.
“I’m going to side with Criterion on top,” Blencowe said.
“I think that Criterion has options from barrier seven there and I think he will appreciate that wave of pressure early.
“He has the pressure to creep up on the back of that and I think he gets the right run on the map there regardless of what happens in the run there.
“It was a fantastic training effort to bring him off the plane like.
“He wasn’t quite at his absolute peak from the Queen Elizabeth in the autumn there, but he was very, very close and it was more a case of the way that the race was run that kept him from recording an absolute peak rating.
“It was still a genuine Group 1 performance.
“His form in the last 12 months has been fantastic.
“All of his efforts overseas have been credible and his last two runs in Australia have been Group 1 wins over 2000 metres and both really top class Group 1 wins.
“That is what is angling me to believe that he deserves that place on top of the market.”
Criterion is currently available at 2015 Cox Plate odds of $6.50 with Ladbrokes and he is on the third line of betting behind Aidan O’Brien-trained Highland Reel ($5) and Epsom Handicap winner Winx ($6).
You can score the best Cox Plate odds for Criterion or any other horse in the field with leading online bookmaker Ladbrokes, who are offering Best Tote or Starting Price +20% on every race at Moonee Valley on Saturday.