Criterion will start from an outside barrier in his quest to win Sunday’s HK$25,000,000 Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Cup over 2000m at Sha Tin.

The David Hayes and Tom Dabernig-trained five-year-old will start from barrier 13 in the 14-horse field, a draw that is considered very difficult with a short run until the first bend.

Hayes had been hoping for an inside barrier for Criterion but was circumspect after the draw.

“It’s not what we wanted as we were hoping for a gate between 1 and 5 but it is out of our hands,” said Hayes.

“He is fit and well, everything has gone to plan since we arrived and it is now up to Craig Williams.

“There looks to be plenty of speed drawn near him so that may allow him to slide across and get into a good spot.

“We know he is good enough to win but it will all come down to luck in running.”

Criterion has raced in Hong Kong on two previous occasions, finishing third in last year’s Hong Kong Cup behind Designs On Rome and Military Attack before filling the same placing in the QEII Cup over the same course in April behind Blazing Speed and Stephanos.

“I firmly believe that Criterion is in better form now than when he ran in this race last year,” said Hayes.

Kris Lees was thrilled with the barrier draw for Lucia Valentina, with the five-year-old mare set to start from gate 5 for Damien Oliver.

“She really has thrived in Hong Kong, I couldn’t be happier with her,” said Lees.

“She looks a picture of health and she has now drawn a gate where she will be able to relax in the run.

“I will leave the tactics up to Damien but he shouldn’t have too many problems from there, the big question is whether she is good enough.”

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Gailo Chop, winner of the Group 1 MacKinnon Stakes at Flemington during the Melbourne Cup Carnival, drew barrier 7 which thrilled part-owner Terry Henderson from OTI Racing.

“It is a lovely barrier for him and he has travelled from Melbourne in perfect order,” said Henderson.

“He reminds me of a tough old New Zealand gelding, he seems to handle everything.

“His trackwork since arriving has been very good and we think he will run a good race.”

Chris Waller arrived in Hong Kong late Wednesday and was pleased with his galloper Prefermentahead of the HK$16,500,000 Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Vase over 2400m, where he will be ridden by Hugh Bowman from barrier 10.

“He has put on the weight that he lost in travelling over and has worked well this week,” said Waller.

“I think that the 2400m of Sha Tin will suit him and I am looking forward to the challenge.

‘It will not be an easy task by any measure but I am confident that he will give his all and be very competitive.”

Trainer George Moore believes that his champion galloper Able Friend can return to the winner’s list in the HK$23,000,000 Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Mile.

“He was outstanding when winning first-up from a spell over 1200m and I think he was suffering from second-up syndrome when he was beaten last start,” said Moore.

“Everything since that run has gone to plan and his jockey, Joao Moreira, gave me the biggest of smiles after his work this morning.

“I think he is back to his best and I think he will win.”