Trainer David Payne has revealed that he is happy with the condition of Criterion ahead of the 2014 Randwick Guineas and is hoping that the consistent colt will receive luck in running in the Group 1 event in Sydney tomorrow.
Criterion performed well at Group 1 level during the 2013 Spring Racing Carnival, finishing second in the Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) and fourth in the Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m), and has returned to the races in excellent form.
The son of Sebring ran home strongly to finish fourth behind Hucklebuck in the Group 3 CS Hayes Stakes (1400m) at Flemington on February 15 and was the run of the race when second behind Shamus Award in the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington on March 1.
Payne told Sky Racing HQ that he wanted to make sure that Criterion was fit and firing at the start of his autumn campaign, after he made a slow start to his spring preparation last year, and has been happy with his performances heading into the Randwick Guineas this weekend.
“His last preparation he came in in quiet a poor state from the spelling farm,” Payne said.
“This time we made sure that he spelled better and he has come in a much better horse.
“It was good effort; he was a little bit held-up for a while, but I think the winner was too good on the day.
“He was closing nicely, but we were thrilled with it and he can only get better from that run.”
Criterion will jump from barrier eight in the Randwick Guineas this weekend and Payne expects the three-year-old to settle in his customary position towards the tail of the field.
Payne admits that Criterion will need a bit of luck in the final stages of the race to score his maiden win at Group 1 level, but said that he does not want to tinker with the racing pattern of his star galloper.
“He will be finishing off, it is a nice bit track, but it just depends if he is not too far back; that is my concern,” Payne said.
“He is the type of horse that likes to be in his comfort zone and if we changed that and started hunting him up I don’t think that it would suit him.”
Payne is chasing his first win in the Randwick Guineas after finishing second with Flying Pegasus in the 2006 edition of the race.