Trainer David Hayes admits that Criterion faces the toughest challenge of his racing career to date in the 2015 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes, but he believes that the talented entire is good enough to be more than competitive in the Group 1 event at Royal Ascot on Wednesday night.
Criterion earnt himself a trip to England for the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes when he recorded a dominant two and a half lengths victory in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick on April 11 and he went on to finish third behind Blazing Speed and Staphanos in the Group 1 The Audemars Piguet QEII Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin on April 26.
Hayes said that the dominance of Criterion’s Queen Elizabeth Stakes victory gave him the confidence that the Sebring entire can win the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes and he said that he has been very happy with the recent trackwork heading into the Group 1 event.
“I have been watching the Aussies come here and do so well in the sprints and I have always thought that if I had a horse that might be good enough it would be great to take the English on at their own game in the middle distances,” Hayes said.
“It is going to be a very hard task, it is a great field with horses coming from everywhere, but all I can say is that my horse is really healthy and I have been very happy with his work.
“You wouldn’t put Red Cadeaux in that race, but you might put Adelaide and a few others that he beat and I thought that he beat them very easily because he was really untouched in that race.
“I think this is going to be a lot tougher and I just feel that 2000 metres around Ascot will really suit him.”
Hayes has won a combined total of 80 Group 1 events in Australia, Hong Kong and Japan, but he believes that winning the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes with Criterion would likely be the greatest achievement of his training career to date.
“It would be as good as anything that the stable has done,” Hayes said.
“My father was a huge fan of English racing and I am too.
“We respect it so much because we see C grade horses come down and win our A grade races, so it would be nice to bring an A grade horse and maybe beat you’re A graders.”
Criterion is currently available at 2015 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes odds of $11 with Ladbrokes and he is on the sixth line of betting behind Free Eagle ($3.75), Ectot ($6), The Grey Gatsby ($7), Western Hymn ($8) and California Chrome ($9).