Hall Of Fame trainer David Hayes is getting excited about the chances of Criterion in Saturday’s Group 1 $4m Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick.
Hayes, who trains in partnership with his nephew Tom Dabernig, said that the 2000m of the $4m weight for age feature on the second day of ‘The Championships’ will suit Criterion perfectly at this stage of his campaign and the prospect of a another wet track at Randwick won’t dampen his chances either.
“I think he is up to his best trip, the track will be perfect for him and I am starting to get excited about his prospects,” Hayes told the Herald Sun.
Criterion will also be wearing a barrier blanket for the first time when he is loaded into the starting stalls for the Queen Elizabeth Stakes after the big chestnut was a little tardy away when second to Real Impact in the Group 1 $1m George Ryder Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill on March 21.
Criterion was mentioned in the stewards’ report as bumping Cosmic Endeavour as he left the barriers on that occasions and Hayes said that he was happy with the way the stallion handled the barrier blanket when second in a 1200m Randwick barrier trial on March 31.
“We had a trial and used a blanket on him at the barriers because he has been slowly away,” Hayes said.
“He jumped out and was very impressive.”
Criterion was one of the stars of the Sydney Autumn Carnival last year with wins in the Group 1 $500,000 TAB.com.au Rosehill Guineas (2000m) at Rosehill on a soft tack and the Group 1 $2m BMW Australian Derby (2400m) at Randwick on a heavy track.
Top Sydney rider Hugh Bowman was aboard Criterion at his first run back this campaign when third to Cosmic Endeavour in the Group 1 $500,000 Canterbury Stakes (1300m) at Randwick on March 7.
But big race jockey Craig Williams took over from Bowman in the George Ryder Stakes and will be aboard him again in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
Criterion is well up in the market order for the Queen Elizabeth Stakes with Ladbrokes.com.au at $7.50 with Japanese galloper Tosen Stardom.
The John O’Shea trained Contributer heads the betting at $3.60 just ahead of the other Japanese invader To The World at $4.
Queen Elizabeth Stakes market order at Ladbrokes.com.au: $3.60 Contributer, $4 To The World, $7.50 Tosen Stardom, Criterion, $8.50 Adelaide, $15 Lucia Valentina, $17 Royal Descent, $21 Beaten Up, Spillway, $31 Red Cadeaux, $51 Happy Trails, Fiveandahalfstar, $201 Aomen.