Son of co-trainer David Hayes, Ben Hayes believes the booking of a jockey familiar with the York track in William Buick for his stable star Criterion in this month’s Juddmonte International can boost the galloper’s chances of a win in England on August 19.
Star Sebring stallion Criterion is set to contest the £850,000 Group 1 Juddmonte International (2011m) later this month at York Racecourse and this week Hayes, whose father prepares the galloper in partnership with his nephew Tom Dabernig, confirmed the booking of English hoop Buick.
Originally young Chad Schofield was to have ridden the horse in the York classic, but Hayes Jnr. believes Buick’s experience at the track will boost Criterion’s chances.
“It is important to use a jockey who knows the track rather than one who has never ridden there,” Hayes, who has been with Criterion during his time in England, told Racing Post this week.
Criterion has had three international runs on his record including his two most recent runs, the triple Group 1 winner last seen crossing four lengths away fifth to Free Eagle in the Group 1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes (2011m) at Ascot on June 17.
Prior to that he was third to Blazing Speed in April’s Group 1 Piguet QEII Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin in his first run since an easy two and a half-length effort over triple Melbourne Cup runner-up Red Cadeaux in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) in Sydney during The Championships.
The race at Ascot, his first English run, was also his first time out of the top three in Group 1 company since his fifth to Happy Trails in last November’s Mackinnon Stakes in Melbourne.
Winner of the Group 1 Rosehill Guineas – Australian Derby double as a three-year-old in the autumn of 2014, Criterion was previously prepared by David Payne.
He was transferred to the care of his Lindsay Park trainers ahead of his international debut last December when third to Designs On Rome in the Group 1 Hong Kong Cup (2000m).
This month’s Juddmonte International is part of an extended UK stay for the $5 million earner who is due back home later this Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival where his major target is the $3 million Group 1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley Racecourse on October 24.
With no suitable quarantine facilities in Australia, connections made the call to keep Criterion in the Europe where he has been kept with John Gosden at Newmarket during their summer season.
Hayes said a change of routine since the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes would help Criterion improve on the run.
“We have changed his training since Ascot. When we first arrived we were keen to train him ‘Aussie style’ – on the flat and over further,” he said.
“After Ascot he had three weeks spelling. Since he returned he has been trained in the string with John Gosden’s horses.”
During his time with Gosden and his horses, Criterion has very much been prepared like an English thoroughbred Hayes added.
“He has been trained in a more European style and has been doing two canters daily up Warren Hill as well as regular gallops. He worked over a mile this morning (Thursday) and ran home the last 600 metres,” he said.
“We were very happy. William Buick was pleased with where he is and it is full steam to the race.
“This training has suited him – he looks great and seems in a better place.”
He will also not don blinkers at York but will have cheek pieces instead, the gear change another chance for Criterion to atone for his unplaced run last start.
“Our main aim is to finish in the first three and we shall ride him to place,” Hayes said.
“Obviously we’re there to win but we are realistic as to his chances.”
Criterion contested last year’s edition of Australasia’s weight-for-age championship when crossing a length and a half away seventh behind international raider Adelaide in the Cox Plate with James McDonald in the saddle.
Cox Plate betting at Ladbrokes.com.au on the nominations, taken by Racing Victoria on Tuesday, are led by an international entry Arod ($9).
The next best in the futures Cox Plate odds at $10 is then Godolphin’s multiple Group 1 champion Contributer followed by Criterion on $12.
To check out the full Cox Plate markets and back your early favourites visit Ladbrokes.com.au today who will also be offering all the best international race markets on upcoming Group 1s including the Juddmonte International.