By Simon Jackson at Royal Ascot.
Five countries are represented in the Group 1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes that has attracted a field of nine runners for the feature race on the second day of Royal Ascot on Wednesday.
The declared field of 10 was reduced by one on Monday due to the withdrawal of Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome to leave a boutique field of horses from Australia, Japan, France, Ireland and the UK.
The field of nine is made up of Free Eagle who represents Ireland, while the UK has four runners – The Grey Gatsby, Cannock Chase, Western Hymn and The Corsican.
France is double-handed with Ectot and Gailo Chop. The Japanese runner is Spielberg and the entry from Australia is Criterion, whose trainer David Hayes says is in good order ahead of the 10 furlong contest that carries total prize money of £525,000.
Criterion has already bagged three Group 1s in Australia and last ran in Hong Kong in late April when he finished third in the Group 1 QEII Cup at Sha Tin.
“After watching Australian horses do so well in the sprints, I’ve always thought that if I had a horse that was good enough it would be great to take the English on at their own game with middle-distance horses,” Hayes said.
“The Prince Of Wales’s Stakes is going to be a very hard task, with a tough international field. But all I can say is Criterion is very healthy and I have been very happy with his work.
“The horse had a look around Ascot last Tuesday. I was pleased with him and young Chad Schofield who rode him said he handled the undulations very well.
“It is going to be a tough race but I think Ascot will suit him. To win a race at Royal Ascot would be as good as anything. My father [the late top Australian trainer Colin Hayes] was a huge fan of English racing and I am too.
“I am confident he can be competitive. I hope the weather forecast is wrong as he prefers some cut in the ground.
“Chad Schofield will take the ride. He is a champion young rider from Australia who has been riding in the UK. I think he is a world-class rider and he has been a great help with Criterion during his time in the UK.”
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