Tommy Berry has been confirmed to take the ride on Criterion in Saturday’s 2016 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) and is confident the leading contender will be very hard to beat in the feature race on Day 2 of The Championships at Royal Randwick.
Criterion was partnered by Michael Walker through his recent Spring Carnival campaign, while Kerrin McEvoy took the ride on the Sebring entire in the Group 1 Canterbury Stakes (1300m) first-up this time.
While Walker returned to the saddle for Criterion’s most recent run in the Group 1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m), a possible head injury suffered away from racing has ended the hoop’s autumn season and opened the door for Berry to take the ride on the multiple Group 1 winner in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes 2016.
Drawn in a talented field, Berry was thrilled with the feel offered up by Criterion in a gallop at Randwick on Tuesday morning and is confident he is ready for a big performance in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
“He’s going quite well and I think with Winx not in the race, he’s going to be very hard to beat,” Berry told Racing Ahead.
“I galloped him this morning out at Randwick and David’s just had him ticking over nicely and he’s going to be spot-on for Saturday’s race.”
Criterion has been a standout performer through his entire racing career so far; posting an impressive seven wins and fourteen minors through 35 competitive starts.
Returning to racing in slick form in 2014, Criterion ran fourth in the Group 3 CS Hayes Stakes (1400m) and second in the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m); failing to fire in the Group 1 Randwick Guineas (1600m) but responding in the best way possible with consecutive wins in the Group 1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) and Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m).
Transferring to the care of David Hayes and Tom Dabernig from David Payne’s stables at the conclusion of his 2014 campaign, Criterion returned in 2015 in career-best form; running third in the Canterbury Stakes and second in the Group 1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) before winning the Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
Producing a number of strong performances in a trip abroad during the Australian winter, the stallion out of Mica’s Pride won the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m) upon returning in October; progressing to second in the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) and third in the Melbourne Cup (3200m).
Ladbrokes.com.au is currently offering the best 2016 Queen Elizabeth Stakes odds, for which Criterion can be taken at a generous quote of $8 for success.