Trainer David Hayes has confirmed that the Group 1 Hong Kong Cup (2000m) is the likely target for Criterion at the Hong Kong International Raceday on Sunday December 14.
Criterion has been included in the entries for both the Hong Kong Cup and the Group 1 Hong Kong Vase (2000m), but Hayes believes that 2000 metre event will be the better option for the talented entire who has recorded Group 1 wins over both trips.
Hayes told Sky Racing HQ that Criterion will need to travel well to be any chance in either race, but he believes that based on his efforts in both the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m) and Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m), that the Sebring entire can be competitive.
“We will make a decision which race in Hong Kong we will go for and I am probably leaning to the 2000,” Hayes said.
“The Vase is slightly longer and he is a Derby winner, but I think I would rather train him for 2000.
“Sir Owen (Glenn) is hoping that he can be a stallion and I think that the 2000 would have more appeal to Australian breeders.
“If he travels well, his run behind Fawkner in the Caulfield Stakes was excellent and his Cox Plate run was a little bit luckless; he got interference and he was one of the best horses hitting the line.
“He probably didn’t back-up quiet as well a week later at Flemington, but he didn’t disgrace himself there either against the good field.
“I think it is Tuesday the 1st of December, so I will probably give him an exhibition gallop at the Valley if I get permission on the 29th and if he comes through that well we will be off to Hong Kong.”
Criterion was previously prepared by Sydney-based trainer David Payne, but he joined the Lindsay Park team after he finished a credible fifth in the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) due to a dispute between Payne and owner Sir Owen Glenn.
Hayes said that he still getting to know Criterion, but has been giving the four-year-old an easy time of things since he arrived at Euroa and he indicated that the four-year-old was still a very fit horse at the end of his 2014 Spring Racing Carnival campaign.
“He arrived in good condition and we gave him a week on the water-walker,” Hayes said.
“He was very fit because he had two runs in a week in the best races in Australia and I was very happy with the way that he arrived.
“We gave him a week to ten days just on the water-walker and going out to the paddock during the day and we put him under saddle yesterday for the first time and I am basically just getting to know him.”
Hayes has never won the Hong Kong Cup, but he took out the 2002 edition of the Hong Kong Sprint with All Thrills Too.