Criterion is currently on top of 2016 Australian Cup betting markets, but co-trainer Tom Dabernig has confirmed that the tough entire will not contest the Group 1 event at Flemington on March 12.
Criterion was included in the 2016 Australian Cup nominations that were released earlier in the week and he was installed as favourite in the Australian Cup betting market with Ladbrokes, but Dabernig told Racing Ahead that the four-time Group 1 winner would race exclusively in Sydney this preparation.
The Sebring entire finished in the placings in both the Group 1 Canterbury Stakes (1300m) and Group 1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) before he took out the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) in dominant fashion and Dabernig said that the exciting stallion prospect would follow the exact same path during the 2016 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival.
“He is in really good order,” Dabernig said.
“We are looking at the Canterbury Stakes and it will be a similar program, probably identical to what we did last autumn – going to the George Ryder into the Queen Elizabeth.
“Unfortunately he will be coming right up to Sydney, but he seems in great order.
“He is at the farm and doing well.”
Criterion was far from disgraced when he took on the world’s best horses in the Group 1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes (2011m) at Royal Ascot on June 17 and the Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes (2092m) and he was one of the most consistent horses during the 2015 Spring Racing Carnival.
He returned to Australia in the Group 1 Ladbrokes Caulfield Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield on October 10 and he swooped home from the tail of the field to record an impressive win before he chased home Winx to finish a brave second in the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 24.
The Lindsay Park team elected to make the decision to step Criterion up to 3200 metres for the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on November 3 and he produced another outstanding performance to finish an unlucky third, but he was unable to replicate that form when he finished a flat ninth in the Group 1 Hong Kong Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin on December 13.
Criterion is currently available at 2016 Australian Cup odds of $7 and he is a narrow favourite from Preferment ($8), Bow Creek ($9), Our Ivanhowe ($9), Perfect Reflection ($10), Contributer ($11), Hauraki ($11), Magic Artist ($11), Mongolian Khan ($11) and Suavito ($11).