Returning to racing in typically competitive form through the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival, trainer David Hayes has been thrilled with the work completed by classy stallion Criterion in the lead-up to the Group 1 Hong Kong Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin on December 14th.
Securing an impressive race record of five wins and seven minor places from a total of 22 competitive starts, Criterion began his racing career under the guidance of trainer David Payne in late 2012, but has transferred to the care of Hayes and co-trainer Tom Dabernig for his tilt at the Hong Kong Cup and 2015 Australian racing calendar.
Completing a strong gallop over 1400m at Euroa on Monday morning, Hayes told TVN he has been impressed by the class displayed by the Sebring entire since taking over his training and is confident of a competitive performance upon lining up for the 2014 Hong Kong Cup.
“He worked really well, I was very happy with his work,” Hayes said.
“He did it in good style. The way he works just tells you he’s a good horse.”
Steadily building to the task over the 2013 Spring Racing Carnival, Criterion ran eleventh in both the Group 3 The Run To The Rose (1200m) and featured Group 1 Golden Rose (1400m) before placing second in each of the Group 2 Stan Fox Stakes (1500m) and Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m); returning to the paddock after placing fourth in the Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m).
Undoubtedly finding career-best form over this year’s Autumn Carnival, the stallion out of Mica’s Pride placed a credible fourth in the Group 3 CS Hayes Stakes (1400m) first-up before running second to 2013 Cox Plate champion Shamus Award in the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) on March 1st.
Appearing out of sorts when only managing eighth in the Group 1 Randwick Guineas (1600m) on March 15th, Criterion responded in the best way possible when breaking through for a maiden victory at the highest level of racing in the Group 1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m); repeating the dose when finding the line in the clear in the Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) just two weeks later.
Running third in the Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m) first-up this season, Criterion was unable to handle the late pace when beating just one runner home in the Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) on September 6th but again responded well when placing a close second in each of the Group 2 Hill Stakes (2000m) and Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m).
Having since finished seventh in the Cox Plate (2040m) and fifth in the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m), Criterion will complete a track gallop at Moonee Valley next week before travelling to Hong Kong.