Queensland racing fans are gearing up for this Saturday’s sensational BTC Cup showdown with the magnificent Black Caviar shooting for a 13th straight win, but the connections of her sprint nemesis Hay List are quietly confident he can keep her at 12.
While the current pre-field BTC Cup odds tell a story of a horse that looks to be unbeatable, Peter Moody’s queen of the turf as short as $1.15 already, Gosford trainer John McNair believes it is ‘fourth-time lucky’ for his colossal challenger Hay List.
Three times the dominant sprinters have met, and the record remains three – nil in favour of Black Caviar.
Still, McNair believes five-year-old Statue Of Liberty gelding Hay List is in the best form of his career and can finally turn the tables on the world’s fastest horse tipping the BTC Cup to be “one hell of a horse race.”
With the punters and bookies tipping the ‘Black Flash’ to become a six time Group 1 winner at Doomben on Saturday, McNair and others in Hay List’s camp are warning fans to prepare for one of Australian racing’s most sensational upsets.
“This is the first time that I am really 100 per cent happy with him going in to a race against Black Caviar,” McNair said.
“She has had everything go her way, she hasn’t had any hiccups.
“It has been the dream preparation for her.
“We are planning to throw a spanner in the works.”
Injured jockey and Hay List’s regular rider Glyn Schofield believes the galloper is a star in his own right and that if ever the time was right to bring down Caviar, Saturday is it.
“He’s the best sprinter I’ve ridden,” Schofield said.
“Unfortunately he has come at a time where, at this stage, she’s had the better of him.
“But when I walk around the enclosure, whether she’s there or not, I always think my bloke is going to win, because I know how good he is.”
After injuring his collar bone from a fall off Hawk Island in the Sydney Cup on April 23, Schofield was not able to ride Hay List to his latest victory in the Group 1 All aged Stakes with Glen Boss taking over the duties.
Boss has again been booked for the Hay List mount in the BTC Cup, returning from a riding stint in Singapore.
At the latest encounter between Hay List and Black Caviar, the gelding was able to obtain a handy lead in the Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes at Randwick before the mare ran him down living up to the challenge of chaser.
Still, it was a brave run and showed Schofield and others just how close Hay List is to hitting peak form in time for round four.
“He gave her a big scare that day,” Schofield said of the TJ Smith Stakes.
“He has gone on from that run and tightened up and I have no doubt it put them a bit closer together.”
Hay List has been plagued with ongoing feet issues that McNair believes to be under control.
“They are the best they have been for a while,” McNair said of Hay List’s hoofs.
While Black Caviar has been making herself at home in the Sunshine State since arriving in town last Sunday, Hay List is set to travel up north from Gosford on Thursday evening.
McNair is also holding high hopes that the sunny skies remain in Brisbane leading up to Saturday, giving the Doomben track time to firm up.
“If we can get a dead track, I think you will see one hell of a horse race,” McNair said.
Although optimistic, McNair is also not shy to give credit where credit is due.
“She (Black Caviar) is trained by one of the best, if not the best trainer in Australia at the moment,” he said.
“I’m leading the battler brigade and Moods (Peter Moody) is winning everything except the Davis Cup.
“All we can do is show up and hope for once she draws outside us.
“To win these sorts of races, you have to have that tiny little bit of luck.”
Moody too has no shortage of high spirits with the progress of Black Caviar.
“She has really enjoyed the break away from racing,” he said.
“To this point she has had only the one gallop since the TJ Smith Stakes but the trip up here tightened her up a bit.
“She let down well during the week and really pleased with her work on Saturday morning.
“She was bucking her brand off coming off the track (on Monday) so she is almost feeling too well.”
A capacity crowd is expected to flood Doomben Racecourse for the Black Caviar show, the Brisbane Racing Club (BTC) having to add three extra areas to cater for the spectators out to catch a glimpse of racing royalty.
Both Black Caviar and Hay List are also nominated for the Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1350m) on May 28.
McNair has suggested if things don’t go to plan in the BTC Cup, Hay List is sure to get the better of Black Caviar in their second Queensland encounter.
“If we don’t get her in the first one, we will get her in the next one,” he said.
“I know my horse can run a strong 1350m or 1400m.
“We are still guessing whether Black Caviar can extend her brilliance beyond 1200m.
“It is still up in the air with her.”
Hay List ran a brilliant 1400m in winning the All Aged Stakes over the distance by an easy three and a half lengths on April 23 while Black Caviar is as yet untested over anything greater than 1200m.