David Hayes was one of the big winners of the 2015 Melbourne Cup barrier draw and the leading trainer believes that both Criterion and Almoonqith will get a lovely run into the Group 1 event at Flemington on Saturday.
There was plenty of pressure on Ben Hayes when he was sent up to select the Melbourne Cup barrier for Criterion, with barriers four, 22 and 24, the only gates left, but he did not disappoint his father and secured barrier four.
Criterion is arguably taking as strong a form as any horse into the Melbourne Cup following his win in the Group 1 Ladbrokes Caulfield Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield on October 10 and his second place finish behind Winx in the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 24 and Hayes believes that barrier four will give the Sebring entire the best possible chance to run out a strong 3200 metres.
“I was really worried when we had a 66% chance of drawing the outside (22 or 24) with three barriers left so when he drew barrier four that was ideal and with the way the track’s playing it’s the perfect barrier,” Hayes said.
“With that weight (57kg) and the query at the distance he needs a cushy run.
“He’s a weight-for-age horse that relaxes, he’ll get a beautiful run now and Michael’s just got to time his run and he’ll be there at some stage in the straight.
“If it was to rain, Criterion is as good of a wet-tracker as I’ve trained.”
Hayes also has Almoonqith in the 2015 Melbourne Cup field and the imported stayer also fared well at the Melbourne Cup barrier draw after being allocated barrier ten.
Almoonqith has been plagued by poor barriers since he finished a luckless sixth in the Group 3 Naturalism Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield on September 19 and Hayes was thrilled to finally draw a gate with the galloper that he believes can become the first horse since Dunaden in 2011 to complete the Geelong Cup/Melbourne Cup double.
“It’s the first decent barrier since I’ve trained him and he should get a lovely run,” Hayes said.
“If you draw out it’s not impossible but there’s a chance that you could get caught wide at the first bend and I think if you did the stats on horses that are caught wide at that first bend, not many win.
“Almoonqith’s absolutely thriving.
“If I was against Almoonqith I’d be very worried about him with the way he won at Geelong.
“I wouldn’t swap my pair for anyone’s horses.
“They’re sound, they’ve had great preparations and we’re quietly confident that we’re going to go pretty close.”
Criterion is currently available at 2015 Melbourne Cup odds of $15 in the betting market with Ladbrokes, while Almoonqith is priced at $16 to record the biggest win of his racing career to date.
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