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Trainer David Hayes is deliberately keeping Criterion on the fresh side for his return to Australian racing at Caulfield.

Criterion is set to line up in the Group One Caulfield Stakes (2000m) on Saturday, his first run on Australian soil in six months.

The son of Sebring arrived with a shipment of international horses on September 26 and has since been undergoing quarantine at Werribee.

He galloped at Werribee on Sunday morning with race jockey Hugh Bowman aboard and will have a lighter work-out on Wednesday to finalise preparations for Saturday’s race.

“I wanted him to gallop on Sunday and then Wednesday and that’s pretty much normal practice,” Hayes said.

“I’m taking the view of putting him in the race nice and fresh.

“If that works I’ll keep him fresh and if it doesn’t work I can always give him more work.”

The last time Criterion raced under Australian conditions he defeated Red Cadeaux in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick in April.

Criterion has since campaigned internationally, running third in Hong Kong behind Blazing Speed in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Sha Tin in April before heading to the United Kingdom.

Two runs in England resulted in a fifth placing in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot in June before a sixth in the Juddmonte International Stakes at York on August 19.

Criterion is being aimed at the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley on October 24 ahead of a possible tilt at the Melbourne Cup at Flemington on November 3.

The five-year-old will have a hectic start to his raceday on Saturday.

He comes out of quarantine in the morning and will be transported to the Flemington stable of Hayes and his training partner Tom Dabernig before getting on the float with the rest of the team heading to Flemington.

“He goes from there (Werribee) to my stable, changes floats and then goes again,” Hayes said.

“It will be all right, he’ll love it.”

Criterion is one of only nine horses nominated so far for Saturday’s race which includes other Cox Plate hopefuls Fawkner, Contributer, Happy Trails, Kermadec and Pornichet.

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