Early markets for the end of month Cox Plate at Moonee Valley will undergo a reshuffle following the Caulfield Stakes 2015 results from this weekend with winner Criterion back to his best and set for Australasia’s weight-for-age championship on October 24.
Prepared by Lindsay Park’s David Hayes & Tom Dabernig, the globetrotting galloper was back racing in Australia for the first time since the autumn when he took out the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) in Sydney.
Since that April 11 run the Sebring stallion had three overseas runs for one third, a fifth and a sixth place against the world’s best, impressing co-trainer Hayes every time.
This Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival Hayes, who admitted it was always a bit of an experiment to travel horses, said he took the fresh approach with the five-year-old heading into the $400,000 Group 1 Ladbrokes Caulfield Stakes (2000m) on Caulfield Guineas Day.
Criterion jumped from barrier seven of eight in the weight-for-age clash and was a market mover in betting at Ladbrokes.com.au, who paid a juicy $9.16 for him to win in their exclusive Best Tote or SP + 20% markets.
Betting was led by Chris Waller’s former favourite for the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m), last start George Main Stakes winner Kermadec who found himself at the tail end of the field and unable to make up enough ground to feature in the finish.
Entirely Platinum led the field around, while Contributer got a nice trail just off the speed.
Settled into second was last year’s Caulfield Stakes winner Fakwner ahead of Pornichet with the Kiwi raider Mongolian Khan fourth on the fence.
Around the bend the defending champion claimed the lead, but Criterion and his hoop Michael Walker were running on strongly late.
On the straight the Paul Beshara-trained Adelaide raider, veteran eight-year-old Happy Trails got right into the race getting the clear running to fight it out with Criterion over the closing stages.
Criterion ($8) was too good in the finish to beat the very brave Happy Trails ($16) by a long neck with the autumn’s ATC Derby winner Mongolian Khan ($13) running a strong third from the back in the ideal trial for Saturday week’s $3 million Group 1 BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) over the mile and a half.
“Amazing,” winning hoop Walker said.
“This is a tough horse and a true weight-for-age star.
“He’s so relaxed.”
Having moved into the race at the right time, Criterion finished over the top of them but still has improvement to come according to Hayes who is very confident heading into the Cox Plate with the last horse to complete the Caulfield Stakes – Cox Plate double being Ocean Park (2012).
“We’ve left really nice improvement in him,” Hayes said.
“I just took the fresh approach on him.
“Now all we have to do is mark time into the Cox Plate.
“He’s in form at the right time.
“He did a big job there (today). A really great effort.”
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2015 Caulfield Stakes Results & Finishing Order
Caulfield Race 6 – 10/10/2015
|1||1||CRITERION (NZ)||David Hayes & Tom Dabernig||Michael Walker||–||7||59kg||$7.50|
|2||3||HAPPY TRAILS||Paul Beshara||Mark Zahra||0.5L||6||59kg||$16|
|3||8||MONGOLIAN KHAN||Murray Baker||Opie Bosson||0.6L||2||58kg||$13|
|4||7||KERMADEC (NZ)||Chris Waller||Glen Boss||1.35L||8||58kg||$3.50F|
|5||4||CONTRIBUTER (IRE)||John O’Shea||Blake Shinn||5.35L||1||59kg||$9.50|
|6||2||FAWKNER||Robert Hickmott||Craig Williams||6.1L||4||59kg||$4.20|
|7||6||ENTIRELY PLATINUM (NZ)||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||Dwayne Dunn||7.1L||5||59kg||$26|
|8||5||PORNICHET (FR)||Gai Waterhouse||Kerrin McEvoy||8.6L||3||59kg||$6.50|