Criterion will gallop with a Lindsay Park stablemate at Moonee Valley on Saturday in a final hit-out before departing for Hong Kong.
The Melbourne Cup placegetter will work with Orator over 1400m before the first race and is booked to leave on Monday to contest the Hong Kong Cup (2000m) on December 13.
“It’s two weeks before his race and we’ll taper into it,” co-trainer David Hayes said.
“I’ve got him fresh as he’s coming back from two miles.”
Criterion has been based at Lindsay Park’s country base since his third placing behind Prince Of Penzance in the Melbourne Cup while the five-year-old is returning to Hong Kong for the third time.
He ran third in the Cup last year at his first start for Lindsay Park and then again finished third in the QEII Cup at Sha Tin in April.
Hayes said Criterion’s form leading into this year’s race was superior to when he made his first trip.
“He’s been up the farm, going out into the paddock during the day, going in the water walker and just doing a bit of maintenance work,” Hayes said.
Hayes said the 14 selected runners, including the Kris Lees-trained Lucia Valentina and Mackinnon Stakes winner Gailo Chop, would provide a tough contest.
But Hayes expects the strongest opposition will come from the Dermot Weld-trained Free Eagle, successful in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot in June.
Criterion finished fifth in that race before running sixth in the Juddmonte International Stakes at York in August.
“Free Eagle is an outstanding horse but I think we’re in better form now than when we last raced him,” Hayes said.
“I think we might be able to make a race of it this time.”
Craig Williams will ride Criterion in Saturday’s gallop as well as in Hong Kong.
Article from JustHorseRacing.com.au