CRITERION’S hopes of emulating So You Think with Group 1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes victory have been boosted with the scratching of US champion California Chrome.
Winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, California Chrome has an abscess and was officially withdrawn on Tuesday.
Criterion will now face a maximum of eight high-class rivals in the $1.1 million Group 1 on Wednesday (Thursday 1.20am AEST).
The Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner will be ridden by Chad Schofield, who has capped a momentous week by securing a six-month contract to ride in Hong Kong next season.
Trained by David Hayes and Tom Dabernig, Criterion will challenge Dermot Weld’s star Free Eagle, French Derby winner The Grey Gatsby, Japanese star Spielberg and Gailo Chop, which is owned by Simon O’Donnell and Terry Henderson’ OTI.
Schofield hopes to make a lasting impression on the British racing community after impressing many with his work ethic since relocating to Newmarket last month.
“To have a ride on a strongly fancied runner in a race as prestigious as the Prince of Wales’s Stakes is incredible,” Schofield said. “To win it, would be phenomenal.
“I think Criterion will be very competitive, his work has been great, he’s feeling fantastic. Hopefully, he can give the race a good shake. He’s come over race-fit. He’s ready, he’s fit and happy.”
Dual Cox Plate winner So You Think won the Prince of Wales’s Stakes in 2012 when trained by Aidan O’Brien.
Australian trainers and owners searching for spring carnival contenders at the Goffs London Sale were denied by fierce local resistance led by Godolphin.
The Dubai-owned operation outlaid $1.75 million for Majestic Queen, a dual group 3 winner entered for Saturday’s Wokingham Stakes.
Majestic Ruler will race in Godolphin blue on Saturday.
OTI’s Gatewood, a regular visitor to Australia, will run in Saturday’s Hardwicke Stakes (2400m) aiming to add the Group 2 to his 2012 Wolferton Stakes success.