Sebring Superstar Ready to Take on World
The star three year-old of last year’s Sydney Autumn Carnival when capturing the Group I ATC Rosehill Guineas and Australian Derby, Sebring entire Criterion stamped himself as the best horse of this year’s carnival with an emphatic victory over perennial bridesmaid Red Cadeaux in the Group I ATC Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
The scratching of pre-race favourite Contributer (IRE) due to injury might have made Criterion’s task a touch easier, but there is little doubt he would have probably won in any case, such was the dominance of his win.
Well proven on soft ground, Criterion relished the conditions and the step up to 2000 metres to charge clear and win Sydney’s richest race by two and a half lengths with Craig Williams in the saddle.
“David (Hayes) told me to ride him like the best horse, so I rode him confidently and positively,” Williams said.
“From there I just had to cuddle and kiss him. He did the rest.”
It was his first win for new trainers David Hayes and Tom Dabernig, who took over Criterion last November from his previous trainer David Payne.
Placed in his three previous runs all at Group I level for his new trainers, Criterion is on track for further success this year albeit in the Northern Hemisphere with David Hayes outlining plans to take the stallion first to Hong Kong and then to the UK for a tilt at Royal Ascot.
“I haven’t gone into a big race as confident. He just ticked all the boxes in the lead-up to this race,” said Hayes.
“He’s had four runs for me, three on top of the ground and they have all been good, but he just goes to a superstar in this ground.”
Hayes said Criterion was likely to return to Hong Kong for the Group I QEII Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin on April 26 and from there would progress to Europe all going well.
Foaled in New Zealand at Blandford Lodge, Criterion is a homebred for Sir Owen Glenn’s Go Bloodstock and has won six races and placed 10 times from 26 starts earning $5.6 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 now win the biggest prize in NSW racing at four.
It’s no wonder his owner is so keen to go overseas as there is little left for Criterion to prove in Australia.
The best of 12 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.