Criterion will get another chance to claim a Group One win this spring with the four-year-old to run in the Mackinnon Stakes ahead of a likely trip to Hong Kong.
A dual Group One winner of the Rosehill Guineas and the Australian Derby, Criterion pulled up so well after his luckless seventh in the Cox Plate, trainer David Payne said he had no hesitation about the quick back-up into Saturday’s Mackinnon (2000m).
“He is a tough bugger and he has come through the race very well,” Payne said.
“Hong Kong has always been an option. He has been entered for both the Cup over 2000 metres and the Vase over 2400.
“We will see how he goes in the Mackinnon and take it from there.
“Corey Brown will ride him on Saturday.
A dual champion trainer in his native South Africa, Payne claimed his first Australian Group One win in the 2003 Flight Stakes with Unearthly who was ridden by the now Singapore-based Brown.
The Mackinnon used to be known as a lead-up to the Melbourne Cup three days later but a prize money boost to $1 million has raised the profile of the race.
It attracted 24 nominations on Monday including last year’s winner Side Glance, fourth in Saturday’s Cox Plate won by Adelaide.
Among those entered to take on the Andrew Balding-trained Side Glance is Caulfield Cup runner-up Rising Romance and the Payne-trained Honorius.
Mourinho, who was left out of the Cox Plate at the discretion of the Moonee Valley Race Club, is also among the Mackinnon entries.
Foreteller and Happy Trails, fifth and sixth respectively in the Cox Plate, are also there.
Six of the Mackinnon nominations are also entered in the Lexus Stakes and trainer Mike Moroney has a decision to make with Araldo.
The Lexus winner gains an automatic start in the Melbourne Cup and with Araldo at No.25 for the 24-horse field, Moroney has to decide whether to chance his arm and hope for attrition or run the horse in the in the 2500m race.
In 2000, the Moroney-trained Brew earned a Cup start with his win in the Lexus equivalent and went on to win the big race.
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