A run in Royal Randwick’s The Championships during the autumn beckons for the David Hayes-trained Criterion following an eye-catching third in the 2014 Hong Kong Cup at Sha Tin on Sunday.
In his maiden international appearance, and despite a number of setbacks, Sebring four-year-old Criterion ran a brilliant third when only a length off the John Moore-trained Designs On Rome in the HK$25 million Group 1 The Longines Hong Kong Cup (2000m).
Ridden by Australian hoop Hugh Bowman, last aboard the stallion for a second to Fawkner in the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m) on October 11, Criterion made a successful debut for his new trainers David Hayes & Tom Dabernig.
Bowman and Criterion were away well from the barriers and positioned just outside the leader, a spot the horse was not familiar with.
Travelling well throughout Bowman told TVN he “gave one hell of a kick” before going down in a brave effort.
Previously prepared by David Payne in Sydney, the dual Group 1 winner was beaten home by the two best in Hong Kong Cup betting with last year’s winner Military Attack crossing a short-head away second to the Joao Moreira-ridden 2014 champ.
“He was beaten by Hong Kong’s two best horses,” Bowman said.
New co-trainer Hayes was over the moon with Criterion’s efforts at Sha Tin, the horse having his first start since crossing fifth to Happy Trails in the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) back on November 1.
Winner of the Rosehill Guineas – ATC Derby double as a three-year-old back in the autumn, Criterion will now enjoy a spell before coming back for another Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival campaign.
This time his major aim is penciled in as the $4 million Group 1 Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick on April 11, the signature race of The Championships.
On way to the 2015 Queen Elizabeth Stakes Hayes confirmed Criterion would also likely run in the $1 million Group 1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) on March 15.
“We’ll race him sparingly and treat him like the international horse he proved himself to be,” Hayes told TVN.
“He gave a great kick like the good horse he is (on Sunday). I thought at the top of the straight he may be a winning chance.
“Maybe if he drew a barrier and Hughie (Bowman) got cover he may have won the race.
“It was a really classy, good effort. He had a major problem going into the race with the allergy, so with a bit of a break … I don’t know how many sleeps to the George Ryder, but I’m looking forward to it.”
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2014 Hong Kong Cup Results
|1||2||DESIGNS ON ROME(P270)||J Moreira||3||–||2.01.96|
|2||3||MILITARY ATTACK(N175)||Z Purton||8||SH||2.01.97|
|4||1||CIRRUS DES AIGLES(L623)||C Soumillon||4||1-1/2||2.02.20|
|5||12||HELENE SUPER STAR(S152)||M Demuro||7||2||2.02.26|
|8||5||CALIFORNIA MEMORY(L135)||M Chadwick||11||4||2.02.59|
|9||11||SAME WORLD(N098)||N Rawiller||5||5-1/4||2.02.79|
|10||10||PLEASURE GAINS(P246)||G Mosse||1||5-1/2||2.02.82|
|12||4||BLAZING SPEED(P192)||N Callan||12||6-1/4||2.02.96|