Cox Plate Goal for Sebring Superstar
In an era when the trend is to retire star colts at the end of their three year-old season, owner/breeder Sir Owen Glenn has gone against the grain in continuing to race his high class Sebring entire Criterion, who entered Cox Plate calculations with a thrilling victory in the Group I MRC Caulfield Stakes on Saturday.
Fresh from a European summer vacation and a last start sixth beaten five and a half lengths in the Group I Juddmonte International won by Arabian Queen from Arc winner Golden Horn, Criterion returned to Melbourne in sparkling form.
He finished full of running to beat the best weight-for-age campaigners in the country by half a length over 2000 metres and now heads to the Group I MVRC Cox Plate.
“I think he’s been racing in the Olympics and he’s back in the national championships now,” said David Hayes, who trains Criterion in partnership with Tom Dabernig.
“People just don’t understand how good they are over there.
“He got flattened by Golden Horn and should have finished closer to him and he would be Black Caviar odds, Golden Horn, if he ran in something here.”
Hayes said spelling during the northern hemisphere summer, rather than the Australian winter, left Criterion in terrific condition for his return to racing.
“He did the big job there. Off a slow tempo, he gave them a start, he travelled wide and he gave them a beating,” Hayes said.
“You have just got to look at his skin. He’s ahead of them.
“Instead of having a winter in the cold here, he’s just been ticking along, been played with and babied and I knew the 2000 would suit him.”
Foaled in New Zealand at Blandford Lodge, Criterion is a homebred for Sir Owen Glenn’s Go Bloodstock and has won seven races and placed 13 times from 30 starts earning $6.3 million in prizemoney.
A top class juvenile, who won the Group II ATC Todman Stakes and was sixth in the Golden Slipper, Criterion has developed and improved with age to dominate at three and is now one of the best older horses in the country.
The best of 14 stakes-winners by Widden Stud’s Golden Slipper winner Sebring, Criterion is a half-brother to Group II winner Varenna Miss and stakes-winner Silently being the best of seven winners from seven foals to race from Group III winning Bite the Bullet (USA) mare Mica’s Pride.
Sebring was also not far off the mark in the $1million Group I MRC Caulfield Guineas with his progressive colt Lizard Island finishing a brave second to the favourite Press Statement.