Talented Australian Criterion has laid a great account for himself at the 2015 Royal Ascot Carnival overnight; producing a commendable late kick to finish a credible fifth in the Group 1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes (2012m).
Criterion received huge patriotic support in 2015 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes betting markets leading into the Ascot feature race and did his chances no harm when jumping from the gates well and settling in prime position on the heels of leader Gailo Chop.
Rounding onto the final straight in competitive position, jockey Chad Schofield led the Sebring entire forward and locked in a fierce sprint battle with the likes of Free Eagle and The Grey Gatsby but unable to maintain the tempo; hitting the line half a length off the third-placed Western Hymn.
Trainer David Hayes was pleased with Criterion’s efforts in the 2015 Prince of Wales’s Stakes and revealed he may remain in England for another start.
“He looked like he was going to get beaten by a good margin and he kept kicking back and just missed fourth,” Hayes said after the race.
“I thought it was a pass mark without raving. He was competitive but wasn’t quite good enough.
“We were thinking the Sussex Stakes which is a bit of a faster tempo mile.
“I reckon he might be a good miler here but we’ll just let the dust settle and see what we do after.”
Free Eagle beat The Grey Gatsby by the bob of a head and trainer Dermot Weld is confident he is capable of figuring on some of world racing’s grandest stages.
“This horse has bags of courage and is a hard horse to beat,” Weld said after the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes.
“He had a stress fracture of the tibia last year and had to miss all the Classics. We got him back for the Champion Stakes here and that was run on heavy ground.
“The plan was to start him in the Tattersalls Gold Cup, but he got a bad head cold which delayed his comeback and his work.
“Fitness was my biggest concern and I had him as good as I could have with the limited preparation he’d had.
“Today was the day, but we’ve been lucky with races like the Irish Champion Stakes and I’ve always thought the Arc would be his long-term objective.”
The 2016 Cox Plate (2040m) in late October has been underlined as Criterion’s major Spring Carnival target.