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Lindsay Park’s 2015 Cox Plate-bound stallion Criterion ran second last when sixth behind upset winner Arabian Queen overnight in the Juddmonte International at York Racecourse for his final international run before returning home for the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival.
The $6 million earner lined-up as an outside chance in the £850,000 Group 1 Juddmonte International (2092m) and could only manage to beat home one of his rivals in the feature.
In a race that attracted some of the world’s hottest gallopers, it was won in a massive boilover by David Elsworth’s 50-1 filly Arabian Queen, ridden by Silvestre de Sousa, who stayed on gamely inside the final furlong and just held on to defeat the odds-on favourite and previously undefeated John Gosden-trained Golden Horn by a neck.
“She’s a filly of the highest class. She’s tenacious and loves to battle,” Elsworth told the media post-win.
“If we hadn’t turned up today, they would be hailing the favourite as the best horse since Frankel.
“She’s certain to stay further, her dam won over a mile and five furlongs (2600m).”
In third was $5 hope The Grey Gatsby who got held-up mid race, but failed to challenge the top two in the closing 200m crossing three and a quarter lengths off the tight quinella.
Ace colt and Epsom Derby winner Golden Horn, ridden by Frankie Dettori, raced keenly and just didn’t quite handle the rain-affected track best on the day using up too much early energy to deny the determined filly.
“Golden Horn was too fresh and keen and he did too much, too early,” Gosden told PAA.
“Frankie found it hard to settle him for the first six furlongs and he gassed himself out.
“He got in front, but I think we know now he’s definitely better on faster ground and the filly just outstayed him.
“You could see he was throwing his head about and he simply burnt too much petrol.”
Criterion meanwhile was sixth of seven runners, the David Hayes & Tom Dabernig-trained Sebring five-year-old ridden by William Buick.
Buick and his mount were also held-up mid-division, and while the Australian galloper was ridden to chase the leaders, he raced flatly and didn’t pick up in pace making no impression in the closing stages.
Hayes, who was at York to witness the run, was left frustrated after Criterion got caught off the speed and was unable to work his way into the finish.
“Frankie’s knocked him down and we were further back than we wanted – it’s probably cost him running fourth,” Hayes told Racing Victoria.
“He put himself into it, it was a bit like his Ascot run (in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes) really, in a better race than Ascot.”
A triple Group 1 winner whose latest turf triumph was in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes over 2000m at Randwick when defeating Ed Dunlop’s triple Melbourne Cup runner-up Red Cadeaux on April 11, Criterion will now enter quarantine ahead of his return to Oz.
Once back home he will be prepared for a run in the $3 million Group 1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley Racecourse on October 24, Hayes taking some positives out of the Juddmonte in regards to Criterion’s Cox Plate chances.
“He’s finished very close to them – The Grey Gatsby would be the favourite in the Cox Plate. We’re 30-1 here and favourite for the Cox Plate,” he said.
“He was third and ended up sixth. Instead of being ahead of those good horses he was behind them. I would have preferred them running at him (rather) than him running at them.”
Last spring the now six-time winner ran seventh behind the first ever international Cox Plate winner Adelaide, beaten under one and a half lengths in the weight-for-age classic.
This year in the futures Cox Plate odds at Ladbrokes.com.au Criterion pays $13 to win, markets led by the in-form Peter Chapple-Hyam-trained European Arod and Contributer.
“It’s straight back for the Cox Plate,” Hayes confirmed.
“We needed to have a race to have an English prep going into it. I think we’ll just go that way. I think it’s a very good lead-in to the Cox Plate.”
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