Lessons learned from Criterion invaluable

MELBOURNE May 20 2019

Trainer David Hayes will use the lessons he learned travelling overseas with Criterion as he aims the Lindsay Park stayers at the Melbourne Cup.

The stable is starting early with the imported Alfarris who will try to earn a ticket to the Cup via Saturday's Andrew Ramsden Stakes at Flemington.

Criterion remained in work for the best part of two years with trips abroad, including two starts in England.

The winner of the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick in April 2015, Criterion next raced in Hong Kong where he finished third in the QEII Cup before going to England to run fifth at Royal Ascot and sixth at York.

Joining that year's international raiders for the Melbourne spring, Criterion almost landed Lindsay Park a Melbourne Cup.

"That opened my eyes," Hayes said.

"He went from the Sydney carnival, to Hong Kong and then campaigned in the UK while the Australian horses were resting.

"He had a nice, easy English summer with a couple of runs in July and August while the Aussie horses were getting back into shape.

"He never lost his figure."

That retained residual fitness helped Criterion win the Caulfield Stakes before finishing second to Winx in the Cox Plate and third to Prince Of Penzance in the Melbourne Cup.

"He got knocked down and ran second to Winx," Hayes said.

"He probably would have won 99 out of 100 Cox Plates and then he nearly won the Melbourne Cup with top weight.

"That told me, keeping your horses going, keeping residual fitness, it's important.

"These European horses when you watch them, they have a run in May, a run in June, a run in July, a run in August and then they're not seen until November and they're very hard to beat."

The Andrew Ramsden (2800m) has undergone a revamp with the winner gaining a ballot exemption into November's Melbourne Cup.

Having his third Australian start, Alfarris is coming off a wayward victory over 2406m at Caulfield on May 11.

"It's going to be a good race," Hayes said.

"It'll have the Adelaide Cup winner (Surprise Baby), and Steel Prince, but mine won't be an easy pushover.

"I think he was not used to getting to the front last time, but he was strong late."

Twenty four horses have been entered for Saturday's race, restricted to three, four and five-year-olds and run under weight-for-age conditions.



Craig Brennan - AAP

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