One of the 104 three-year-olds nominated for the 2013 Spring Champion Stakes this week, the David Payne-trained Criterion will kick off their new season this Saturday in Rosehill’s $125,000 Group 3 The Run To The Rose (1200m).
A traditional lead-up to the $1 million Group 1 Golden Rose (1400m) back at the track on September 14, some of the top performing of the Run To The Rose crop could also continue on this Sydney Spring Racing Carnival and contest the $400,000 Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on October 12.
One of those hopefuls is Sebring colt Criterion who hasn’t raced since their credible sixth to Guelph in the Group 1 Champagne Stakes (1600m) back on April 27.
Prior to that they had a number of impressive juvenile runs including their Canberra win in the Listed Black Opal Stakes (1200m) over current 2013 Golden Rose favourite Sidestep.
There was also their narrow victory over stablemate Fast ‘N’ Rocking in the Group 2 Todman Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill, the kind of performance Hayes is hoping they can emulate first-up at the same track this weekend when ridden by Christian Reith.
Sixth in the Golden Slipper in April, Criterion has had three official trials in the lead-up to The Run To The Rose finishing fourth in all three.
The most recent was on August 20 over 1030m at Rosehill, Payne confident that has topped them off for Saturday.
“He had a good spell and has developed,” Payne said according to AAP.
“He has always been a lean horse, and he still is, but is a bit taller and will appreciate it when the races get longer.”
Already they are one of the top fancies in the futures Golden Rose odds at a quote of $15.
They will face many of the horses above them in the betting for the big one this weekend too including Sidestep, the Bart & James Cummings-trained Eurozone looking to stay undefeated and Chris Waller’s returning winter star Zoustar.
“The idea is to get to the Golden Rose and after that we will decide whether he goes to the Caulfield Guineas or stays in Sydney and heads to the Spring Champion Stakes over the 2000 metres,” Payne said.
The $1 million Group 1 Caulfield Guineas is run over the mile in Melbourne on October 12 and Criterion pays $34 to win the classic.
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