Big race jockey Craig Williams will be re-united with Criterion on Tuesday when he partners the five year old stallion in a special gallop at Lindsay Park at Euroa.
The David Hayes and Tom Dabernig trained Criterion is being prepared for the Group 1 HK$25m Longines Hong Kong Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin on December 13 and Williams will be having his first feel of him since the pair combined to win the Group 1 $4m Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on the second day of ‘The Championships’ on April 11 earlier in the year.
“David is very happy with his preparation and the way that he’s going,” Williams told radio station RSN.
“When you look at the field this year, it’s not as strong as the Cup has been in other years.
“But most importantly we’ve seen Criterion compete in Hong Kong and he likes getting over there. He’s had a rock-solid preparation this past 18 months and I’m looking forward to representing Australia.”
Williams will be happy to get back aboard Criterion in the Hong Kong Cup after he travelled to Hong Kong in April and rode him into third place in the Group 1 HK$20m Audemars Piguet QEII Cup (2000m) a Sha Tin.
Williams then missed out on the ride in England when Chad Schofield was given the nod when he finished fifth to Free Eagle in the Group 1 £525,000 The Prince Of Wales’s Stakes (1 mile, 2 furlongs) at Royal Ascot June 17 and then English hoop William Buick was given the reins when sixth to Arabian Queen in the Group 1 £900,000 Juddmonte International Stakes (1 mile 2 furlongs 88 yards) at York on August 19.
Then during the Melbourne Spring Carnival Michael Walker got the call up and the new combination were able to beat Happy Trails and Mongolian Khan in the Group 1 $400,000 Ladbrokes Caulfield Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield on October 10.
Criterion then continued his Spring campaign with Walker in the saddle with a second to Winx in the Group 1 $3m Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley and a third to Prince Of Penzance in the Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington.
In early betting for the Hong Kong Cup at Ladbrokes.com.au Criterion heads the market order at $4.20 ahead of Hong Kong’s local hopes of Designs On Rome at $4.50 and Military Attack at $7.