Criterion Stakes Betting

For mid-year flat racing, Newmarket features a series of “Summer Saturdays.” On eight weekends in June through August, there are family-focused events with entertainment offerings for kids, from Punch & Judy shows to giant inflatables and a permanent playground. Children under 18 are admitted free and adult admission to the Garden Enclosure is just £5.

One of the highlights of the series occurs on the second Saturday, typically in late June or early July—the Animal Health Trust gala Raceday—and its main event is the £65,000 Criterion Stakes. This is a Group 3 sprint open to Thoroughbreds aged three years or older, conducted over a distance of seven furlongs on the straight turf of the July Course.

The youngest entrants carry a weight of eight stone eight pounds, while those aged four years and upwards must bear nine-stone-three. There is an allowance of three pounds for fillies and mares, and penalties are applied to those who have finished first in meetings since 31st August of the previous year, amounting to eight pounds for Group 2 winners and five pounds for Group 3 winners.

In the late-1800s and early 20th century, another event for two-year-olds was held at Newmarket and called the Criterion Stakes. This particular version of the event, however, was inaugurated in 1978 and initially classified at the Listed level. In 1986, it was upgraded to Group 3 status.

Throughout the 1990s, the race was known as the Van Geest Criterion Stakes. From 2001 onwards, a parade of sponsors associated themselves with the event year by year, including Hitchins, Antec International, betfair, Bang, Haven and British Holidays, Woodford Reserve, Cheveley Park Stud and In 2009, the race became the John Bovington Memorial Criterion Stakes and for 2010-11 it has been dubbed the John Sunley Memorial Criterion Stakes.

In just over three decades of contests, no horse has managed to win this event twice. In like fashion, no jockey has been able to dominate here, with the top four riders unable to mount more than a pair of winners apiece.

George Duffield won on Daring March in 1978 and Noalcoholic in 1982, followed by Pat Eddery aboard Cadeaux Genereux in 1988 and Toussaud in 1992. Then there was Walter Swinburn with wins on Zilzal in 1989 and La Grange Music in 1991, chased by Richard Quinn, whose two victories came atop Inchinor in 1993 and Shibboleth in 2001.

Among trainers, two have brought three winners to the July Course for this event. Sir Michael Stoute started off with Dalsaan in 1981 and then followed up with Zilzal. He also schooled the 2004 winner Arakan. John Gosden’s trio included Toussaud, along with Hill Hopper in 1994 and Racer Forever in 2008.

The majority of the winners were three-year-olds through 1995. However, the more mature runners have taken over since then, with just two horses aged three crossing the finish line first in the past sixteen runnings—Trade Fair in 2003 and Libranno in 2011. Of the other fourteen opportunities, four-year-olds have won six times, five-year-olds have won four and six-year-olds have claimed three. In 2006, the race was won by Suggestive at age eight and paying 10/1.

Long odds have been lucky of late here. In 2005, Vortex paid 2005. Two years later, Silver Touch was worth 10/1 and then Premio Loco made bettors happy with a 25/1 finish in 2010. Earlier in the last decade, favourites owned the track, with Arkadian Hero winning at 100/30 in 2000, Trade Fair paying 10/11 and Arakan worth 7/4.

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