Star internationally-performed hoop Craig Williams will travel to country Victoria to partner $7 million earner Criterion in a serious piece of work on Tuesday before the David Hayes & Tom Dabernig-trained galloper heads to Sha Tin for next month’s Hong Kong Cup 2015.
Williams has ridden the son of Sebring under race conditions five times over the five-year-old’s 32-start career to date including his win in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) in Sydney over the ill-fated triple Melbourne Cup runner-up Red Cadeaux this April.
Criterion is a four-time Group 1 winning stallion who had his first run for Hayes & Dabernig in last year’s AUS$3.6 million Group 1 Hong Kong Cup (2000m) when third behind local stars Designs On Rome and Military Attack with Hugh Bowman in the saddle.
The horse returned to Sha Tin this April on the back of his Queen Elizabeth success for another third this time Williams riding him for a third to Blazing Speed in the Group 1 QEII Cup (2000m).
This campaign Criterion came off two runs in England to win first-up on October 10 in the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m).
His next run was a brave second to Chris Waller’s runaway winner Winx in the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) before he stepped up to the two miles in the iconic Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on November 3 for a third to upset 101/1 winner Prince Of Penznace.
Michael Walker rode Criterion for his latest three runs, but Williams will put him through his paces on Tuesday before the horse heads off Monday week Hong Kong Cup-bound along with stablemate Lucia Valentina.
The duo will face off in the Hong Kong Cup on the International Race Day on December 13 with Criterion leading all-in betting on the classic at Ladbrokes.com.au paying $4.20 to improve on his third 12 months ago.
Hot on his heels in the futures Hong Kong Cup odds at $4.50 is the defending champion Designs On Rome, Williams rating Criterion a huge hope in a field lacking the depth of previous years.
“David is very happy with his preparation and the way that he’s going,” Williams, fresh off his Group 1 Railway Stakes win in Perth aboard the Waller-trained Good Project, told RSN this week.
“When you look at the field this year, it’s not as strong as the Cup has been in other years.
“But most importantly we’ve seen Criterion compete in Hong Kong and he likes getting over there. He’s had a rock-solid preparation this past 18 months and I’m looking forward to representing Australia.”
Williams has a big December on the agenda with bookings at Doomben in Brisbane for the Origin Jockeys Series both before and after the Hong Kong International Race Day.
“It worked out well we didn’t have to do the four Saturdays in a row because I wouldn’t have been able to do so. But because they were quite flexible with availability, I was very keen,” Williams said of his two weekends of riding in the Origin Jockeys Series that has riders from Queensland, Victoria, New Zealand and NSW riding over four successive weekends.
“I thought it was a very good concept.”
To check out the full early Hong Kong Cup 2015 markets and back Criterion at his nice price head to Ladbrokes.com.au and open a new account today!