Following much speculation over the last fortnight as to who would be picked to take the ride, young Australian hoop Chad Schofield has been confirmed to partner talented 2000m specialist in next week’s Group 1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes (2000m) at the Royal Ascot Carnival.
A three-time Group 1 winner, Criterion has returned to racing in typically brilliant form this year; finishing in the minors in each of the Group 1 Canterbury Stakes (1300m) and Group 1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) before posting a career-best win in the major $4 million Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) on Day 2 of The Championships.
Having been given the nod ahead of the widely-expected frontrunner Craig Williams, Schofield told Racing Ahead he was thrilled to have been handed the ride on Criterion for the 2015 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes and is confident of a competitive performance despite having never partnered the four-year-old competitively.
“I can’t wait for next Wednesday and hopefully we can give the race a good shake,” Schofield said.
“I think the horse is going to be very competitive, he’s acclimatised very well and his work has been great.
“He’s feeling fantastic. In the last week his work has picked up really well and he absolutely flew in a gallop last Wednesday and this morning (Wednesday) he produced a similar piece of work.”
Schofield climbed aboard the Sebring entire for a gallop on the Royal Ascot course earlier this week and believes he will be perfectly suited to the conditions of the 2015 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes.
“That was what I was most impressed and happy about,” Schofield added.
“He’s very light on his feet, he’s got a beautiful, big, long action and he handled the undulations very well.
“I was very happy with how he felt and worked at Ascot and it was great to give him a look at the track.”
Unlucky not to break through for a maiden win at the highest level through a standout 2013 spring preparation, Criterion found exceptional form upon resuming in the 2014 autumn; running a close second in the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) before posting consecutive wins in the Group 1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) and Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) most notably.
Unable to return to the winner’s circle over a competitive spring campaign, Criterion was given little chance of success in his maiden trip abroad but stamped his claims as a credible globetrotter when third in the Group 1 Hong Kong Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin on December 14th.
Ladbrokes.com.au is currently offering the best 2015 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes odds, for which Criterion has cut into outright second-favouritism at a quote of $8 for success.