David Payne insists a decision to sacrifice one Group One race can be rewarded with another for talented colt Criterion in the $500,000 Champagne Stakes.
Criterion and the David Hayes-trained Fast 'N' Rocking go into the Champagne off promising Golden Slipper runs without contesting the Sires' Produce Stakes, the obvious lead-in to Saturday's race at Randwick.
"Running him in the Sires' would have been the wrong thing for the horse," Payne said.
"He's only a two-year-old and he's got his whole life ahead of him."
Criterion missed the start in the Golden Slipper, made his run for jockey Hugh Bowman wider on the track than Payne would have liked but was still one of the strongest horses at the finish when sixth to Overreach.
His desire to keep running on were also a trademark of his Black Opal Stakes and Todman Stakes victories and Payne says Criterion fits the profile of a two-year-old who will take to the 1600m of the Champagne.
"In most of his races he's been under pressure," Payne said.
"He'll be so much happier when he can settle without being under as much pressure.
"I don't think he was really a Slipper horse but the owner wanted to run him.
"Still, I think he should have been in the money if Hughie hadn't gone around the field.
"If he stays inside I think he runs a place."
Payne made a name for himself in South Africa as an expert trainer of two-year-olds but he says there is a reason Australian Group One juvenile success has been elusive.
"You must remember I get 10 (two-year-olds) a year and someone like Gai (Waterhouse) gets 200," he said. "It makes a difference."
While Waterhouse has two Champagne runners, it is another trainer with an endless supply of young horses at his disposal who will a stumbling block for Payne.
Peter Snowden, who trains for breeding giant Darley, also has two runners, including Guelph, the Sires' Produce winner who is favourite to go back-to-back at Randwick.