Picture this – the English Derby winner, the Irish Derby winner and an Australian Derby winner all working together at England’s famous Newmarket.
Ben Hayes, son of trainer David Hayes, has a photo of superstar Golden Horn, Irish Derby winner Jack Hobbs and Australian star Criterion which he plans to enlarge to hang on his wall.
It’s one of the memories of an English summer during which 25-year-old Hayes got the chance to look after multiple Australian Group One winner Criterion in England for a two-run campaign and the build-up to the Melbourne spring.
Criterion is trained by Ben Hayes’ father David and cousin Tom Dabernig.
Ben was already working for John Gosden in England when Criterion came to stay at the stable.
“To date it’s my biggest thrill in racing, being able to look after Criterion and Dad giving me the opportunity,” Hayes said.
Although unplaced in two Group One races in England, Criterion marked his return to Australia with victory in the Caulfield Stakes.
Criterion is one of the favourites for Saturday’s $3 million Cox Plate.
Gosden’s large string of horses included Golden Horn, winner of the English Derby and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe among other feature wins this year, and Irish Derby-winning stablemate Jack Hobbs.
Having had a close look at the international Cox Plate runners, Hayes rates Coolmore’s Highland Reel as the one to beat.
“But in saying that I think Criterion has got a great chance,” he said.