Trainer David Payne will decide what path Criterion follows during the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival after he resumes in the Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick next weekend.
The Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley is the major 2014 Spring Racing Carnival target for Criterion, but Payne is yet to decide whether he will take the Australian Derby winner to Melbourne for the Group 2 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley on September 6 or wait until the Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on September 20.
“He will definitely go Cox Plate,” Payne told Racing Ahead.
“He could go to the Dato Tan Chin Nam or he could go to the Chelmsford.
“Then it would be on to the Underwood in Melbourne as well.
“We will see how he goes first-up and then decide whether we want to go to straight off to Melbourne or stay here.
“He is as tough as nails.
“Last year he had five runs and that didn’t concern him at all and they were all at the highest level.”
Criterion was the star three-year-old stayer of the 2014 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival and he won both the Group 1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 29 and the Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) at Royal Randwick on April 12.
The Sebring entire made his first public appearance since his tough Australian Derby win with an impressive third in a barrier trial at Rosehill Gardens on July 21 and Payne believes that the four-year-old is a much stronger horse ahead of his spring campaign.
“I am very happy with him and he will be going around in the Warwick,” Payne said.
“He is a much stronger horse, he has firmed a lot and he has a lot more weight around his hindquarters.
“He is forward enough and he is on the right track thank goodness.”
Criterion has done the majority of his racing to date in Sydney and he is still chasing a maiden win in Melbourne after finishing fourth in the Group 1 Victoria Derby (2400m), fourth in the Group 3 CS Hayes Stakes (1400m) and second in the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m).
The two-time Group 1 winner is currently available at 2014 Cox Plate odds of $19 with Ladbrokes Australia, while he is at a quote of $21 to win the 2014 Caulfield Cup.