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Criterion Ready For QE Title Defence

Thursday, 7th April 2016

Trainer David Hayes is confident that Criterion is peaking at just the right time to launch a successful defence of his Gr1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes crown in Saturday's $4 million feature at Royal Randwick, reports AAP. "My horse was a dominant winner last year and he's going to get the conditions to suit," Hayes told Sky Sports Radio. Following his win in last year's Queen Elizabeth Stakes, Criterion embarked on an international campaign which saw him finish third in the Gr1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup in Hong Kong before creditable performances during the 2015 British summer flat season in which he campaigned against some of Europe's best horses, including Free Eagle, The Grey Gatsby, and Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Golden Horn. The 5YO then returned to Australia where he won the Gr1 Caulfield Stakes, was runner-up to Winx in the Cox Plate, and then was an unlucky third in the Melbourne Cup. This preparation the son of Sebring has had a steady build-up to his primary autumn target, his most recent outing resulting in a third place finish in the Gr1 Ranvet Stakes over 2000 metres. "He ran really well," Hayes said of Criterion's last start performance. "Michael Walker pushed the button a bit early on him, he got there with a furlong to go and just peaked on his run, as most horses do when they're second up at 2000m." He added: "That has topped him off perfectly, along with a couple of good gallops, so he'll be at his peak fitness for the weekend." Criterion is on the third line of betting for the Queen Elizabeth at $6, behind BMW winner Preferment at $5 and Gr1 Ranvet Stakes winner The United States at $4.20.

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