When it comes to races at Newmarket, the Criterion Stakes is one of the stand-outs.
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Why You Need to See the 2023 Criterion Stakes Live
This is no ordinary race – Let’s put things into context, beginning with a bit of history….
The race was inaugurated in 1978, although previously there was a Criterion Stakes for 2 year olds. This is not to be confused with the currently named event which is actually used to be called the Van Geest Stakes before the name change.
The race marks a thrilling high point in the mid-summer season at Newmarket Racecourse. Staged on the unique July Course, this Group 3 race is a challenging contest run over seven furlongs and open to thoroughbreds aged three years or older.
The Criterion Stakes initially started as a race of lesser status before receiving its Group 3 classification in 1986. This upgrade elevated the race’s prestige and attracted higher-quality contenders, making it an exciting watch for horse racing enthusiasts. It quickly established itself as a reliable platform for spotting potential talent, with many winners going on to achieve further successes at the highest level.
Legends We’ve Seen to Date
In the race’s history, several horses have left a lasting mark. One of the most impressive winners in recent times was Limato, trained by Henry Candy, who won back-to-back renewals in 2018 and 2019. A previous winner of the Group 1 July Cup, Limato showcased his lasting class and speed in the Criterion Stakes, marking him as one of the standout winners of the race.
The Criterion Stakes has also seen some legendary figures triumph in terms of jockeys and trainers. The famed jockey and Newmarket local Frankie Dettori has celebrated multiple wins in the race, reflecting his superb riding skill and judgment of pace. Simultaneously, Sir Michael Stoute, one of the leading trainers in British horse racing history, has saddled several winners, proving his prowess in preparing horses for this particular challenge.
The Importance of the Criterion Stakes in Context
The importance of the Criterion Stakes extends beyond its individual prestige. It provides a pivotal juncture in the season for horses that excel over seven furlongs. For three-year-olds, it’s an opportunity to take on older horses, testing their development and potential for future races. For the older generation, it offers a chance to maintain or boost their ratings, which is vital for invitations to top-level races later in the year.
Furthermore, the Criterion Stakes serves as a precursor to the July Festival at Newmarket, offering a hint of the thrilling racing action to follow. The race’s timing and its position in the calendar make it a vital preparatory event for horses targeting major summer mile races, including the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood and the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville.
In conclusion, the Criterion Stakes is more than a showcase of equine speed and stamina; it is a race that frequently highlights future stars and offers critical insight into the season’s narrative. It is a must-see event for anyone keen to witness a competitive race that often serves as a launching pad for champions, promising high-quality action and an intriguing storyline each year. As the history of the Criterion Stakes continues to be written, it remains an exciting chapter in the rich tapestry of Newmarket Races.
Criterion Stakes: The July Course Layout and Handling
A flat, straight Group 3 horse race over 7 furlongs, the Criterion Stakes is open to three-year-olds and older. The race takes place in either the later part of June or early July on the July course at the Newmarket racecourse.
The July Course at Newmarket Racecourse is renowned for its unique characteristics and is the chosen venue for the Criterion Stakes. This track, unlike the nearby Rowley Mile, is not a straight mile. Instead, it has a right-handed bend in the early stages, leading to a straight run for the last 6 furlongs, making it a true test of a horse’s agility and balance.
The July Course is also known for its long uphill final stretch, which presents a stern test of a horse’s stamina and resolve, particularly in the closing stages of a race.
The Criterion Stakes demands that successful horses possess a particular set of skills. Given the undulating nature of the course and the uphill finish, horses with a good blend of speed and stamina are typically favoured.
They need to be nimble enough to navigate the early right-handed bend smoothly and maintain a steady pace along the straight. Then, they must have the stamina and determination to sustain their run in the tough final climb to the finish. Furthermore, horses that can deal with the crowd’s presence, as the July Course often hosts spectators very close to the track, have an advantage.
Conditions for the Race
The ground condition of the July Course can have a significant influence on the outcome of the Criterion Stakes. The race typically takes place in late June or early July, when the British summer can bring a range of weather conditions.
A dry spell would result in good-to-firm ground, which favours horses who like a quicker surface. However, if rainfall precedes the race, the ground could be softer, thereby aiding horses who prefer some give in the ground. Although the July Course is known for its excellent drainage, heavy downpours can still make the going quite challenging. Thus, a horse’s adaptability to variable ground conditions is an essential factor for success in the Criterion Stakes.
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Last updated October, 2023
Video Replay from a Past Criterion Stakes
Watch this previous Criterion Stakes from back in 1996, as Gabr takes first place at odds of 14/1 ahead of Inzar with Bin Rosie grabbing third.
Criterion Stakes Live Streaming FAQs
🎥 Do I need to pay a subscription for the Live Stream?
No, there is no subscription charge. You’ll need to register on the site first, which only takes a minute.
🏇 Are there other races available, too?
Yes, there are many other races that you can watch – just take a look at the schedule.
⌚ When will the race coverage start?
The race coverage begins approximately two to three minutes before the race is scheduled.