David Hayes enters the Ranvet Stakes confident about the chances of his two-pronged attack in the Group One race.
The Lindsay Park co-trainer will saddle Criterion and Dibayani in the 2000m race at Rosehill on Saturday.
Hayes, who trains in partnership with nephew Tom Dabernig, ventured to Sydney to watch Criterion and Dibayani go through their final paces on Wednesday morning.
“I liked what I saw and they are in really good shape,” Hayes said.
Michael Walker, who rode Criterion to placings in the Cox Plate and the Melbourne Cup last spring, replaces Kerrin McEvoy after the five-year-old finished last in the Canterbury Stakes at Randwick on March 5.
Hayes said Criterion had improved his fitness and would appreciate a rise in distance.
“His work suggests that,” Hayes said.
“He looks well and I think he’ll run much better.”
Dibayani, to be ridden by Blake Shinn, has put in two solid efforts in Sydney this campaign including a last-start second to champion mare Winx in the Chipping Norton Stakes at Randwick on February 27.
A former Hong Kong galloper, Dibayani ran well early in a Melbourne campaign last spring before losing his form.
“He’s been really good in his couple of runs up here,” Hayes said.
“He seems to be much better off on the Sydney leg and he should be fitter again this time.”
Criterion and Dibayani have drawn inside gates in the nine-horse field and Hayes is hoping it won’t be a disadvantage on Saturday.
“It may not be the place to be with it being wet but they can have a nice run and pull out in the straight,” he said.
“Hopefully they’ll get clear galloping room and the track will be alright.”