He was bred to win the Golden Slipper not to run two miles, but co-trainer David Hayes believes that Criterion may be better suited over the 3200 metres of the 2015 Melbourne Cup then he was in the Cox Plate.
Criterion showed plenty of talent as an early two-year-old and he made his racing debut with a win over Sweet Idea in the Lidoran Group Plate (1100m) in November of 2010 before he took out the both the Listed Black Opal Stakes (1200m) and Group 2 Todman Stakes (1200m) and finished a credible sixth in the Group 1 Golden Slipper (1200m).
The Sebring entire made a slow start to his three-year-old campaign, but he relish the step-up in distance to finish second in the Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) during the 2013 Spring Racing Carnival and he went on to take out the Group 1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) and Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) during the 2014 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival.
Criterion has since gone on to stamp himself as one of the premier weight-for-age horses in Australia, but he has not been over 2400 metres since his Australian Derby triumph.
Hayes was thrilled with the way that Criterion performed in the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) and he believes that performance would have won 10 out of 12 editions of the Cox Plate, but he is now of the opinion that the five-year-old will be better suited to the tempo of the 2015 Melbourne Cup.
“He is really well and he is obviously very fit,” Hayes told the media after Criterion cantered at Breakfast With The Stars at Flemington this morning.
“Michael Walker and myself both thought and said that you wouldn’t know he had run on Saturday, which is always a good sign.
“The distance will suit him better at the stage he is at.
“I know he broke a course record running second and he would have won 10 out of 12 Cox Plates, but I think the tempo of two mile will be more comfortable for him and he will show a better turn-of-foot at the end of two mile – like Jeune and Saintly did.
“Jeune ran 13th in the Cox Plate (before he won the 1994 Melbourne Cup) and this horse should have finished a length behind one of the best performance that we have ever seen.
“He has had this wonderful English summer where the whole emphasis of the summer was training stamina into him.
“In the end you never really know, but my gut feel is yes he will run the two mile pretty easily.”
Criterion is currently available at 2015 Melbourne Cup odds of $15 with Ladbrokes and he is on the fourth line of betting behind Fame Game ($4), Mongolian Khan ($8) and Trip To Paris ($8).