Local trainer David Payne has scheduled a run between races at Rosehill’s Winter Challenge Day this Saturday for his Cox Plate 2014-bound colt Criterion.
The son of Sebring turns four on Friday and is gearing up for their new season debut this spring in the $175,000 Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick on August 23.
Payne is thrilled with how they’ve come on through their break and is confident they can add to their Group 1 tally.
“He is a much better horse than last year; he’s come on a lot, much more mature he has really blossomed so we are happy with him,” he said.
Their three-year-old campaign was a beauty as they became a dual Group 1 winner scoring the Rosehill Guineas – Australian Derby double in Sydney during the autumn.
Criterion also had an impressive spring last season with Group 1 runs in both Sydney and Melbourne.
They were second to Complacent in Randwick’s Spring Champion Stakes over 2000m in October before heading to Flemington where, in their Victorian debut, they finished a brave fourth behind Polanski in the Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m).
Now Payne is eyeing an even bigger target for the $2.34 million earner with Criterion being aimed at the $3 million Group 1 Sportingbet Cox Plate (2040m) for which they pay $26 in the latest Ladbrokes.com.au markets.
They will go to Melbourne second-up with their Cox Plate lead-up being the $250,000 Group 2 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley Racecourse on September 6.
“He’ll go to the Warwick Stakes first on the 23rd of August and then he’ll come to Melbourne to contest the Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes at Moonee Valley,” Payne told Racing Victoria this week.
“He’s got to have a look at Moonee Valley because his main mission is the Cox Plate.”
Cox Plate 2014 nominations close next Tuesday and Payne has confirmed Criterion’s entry into Australasia’s weight-for-age championship.
Other Group 1 Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival nominations taken next week include those for the Caulfield Cup and Caulfield Guineas, the latter an option for Payne’s promising two-year-old Bold Circle.
The Bernardini colt won at Rosehill back in October defeating subsequent Magic Millions 2YO Classic winner Unencumbered in their second career start and will join Criterion for an exhibition gallop back at the track this weekend.
“He’ll be galloping with Criterion at Rosehill on Saturday,” Payne confirmed.
“He’ll be heading toward the Golden Rose and then all going well the Caulfield Guineas.”
“He’s good, he’s doing very well I’m very happy with him.”
The $1 million Group 1 Golden Rose (1400m) runs in Sydney on September 13.
He is yet to be added to the markets for the $1 million Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m), the three-year-olds’ classic running on October 11.
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