Gosford horseman John McNair has not been swayed by the nice Stradbroke Handicap weight his gallant galloper Hay List was allocated yesterday and has stated he is unlikely to accept the five-year-old for the $1 million showdown next month.
Weights and the updated ballot order for the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) were released by Racing Queensland on Monday afternoon, with champion sprinter Hay List given the second highest weight of 57.5kg.
Peter Moody’s undefeated queen Black Caviar was unsurprisingly hit with the 60.5kg top-weight of the Stradbroke hopefuls, but will not be among the final acceptors for next month’s race.
Moody confirmed that after she attempts to equal the mighty Phar Lap’s record of 14 straight victories in Saturday week’s Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1350m), he would send his superstar for a well-deserved spell ahead of the spring.
It seems this is likely the same plan McNair has for Hay List, the dual Group 1 winner looking fitter than ever ahead of his fifth bout against Black Caviar in the Doomben 10,000.
Hay List is currently the equal favourite in the Stradbroke Handicap odds with gun three-year-old Sincero.
Statue Of Liberty gelding Hay List suffered his fourth defeat to Black Caviar last Saturday when finishing two lengths away second in the Group 1 BTC Cup (1200m) at Doomben.
McNair said that Hay List was the type of horse that needed to be looked after carefully as he gets stirred up quite easily.
“He’s just one of those horses that doesn’t take a lot to upset,” McNair said of Hay List.
“He just gets stirred up.”
Hay List, himself a 14 time winner, would have banked at least a million more in prize money it has been said if he didn’t keep running into the freak mare Black Caviar.
Indeed, Hay List is one of modern racings best.
His ability to reel off such blistering sectionals makes him very hard to beat, except of course, by Black Caviar.
“I kept coming to the races thinking I could beat you and with some air of confidence,” McNair said he had told Black Caviar’s jockey Luke Nolen on BTC Cup Day.
“I just got off (having ridden Hay List in work leading up to the BTC Cup) and thought nothing’s going to beat this.
“I got excited again (when Hay List had the BTC Cup lead) and then she just went bang and went past us.
“I keep getting to the races where I think we’re a chance and it evaporates after about 10 seconds.
“She was just too good for us.
“What else can you say?”
Hay List will get one final chance this season to beat the seemingly unbeatable, but McNair is quickly losing confidence ahead of the Doomben 10,000.
The punters have too, with Black Caviar now as short as $1.18 in the pre-field markets while Hay List has drifted out to $5.
“My confidence in the 10,000 has probably dropped now,” McNair said.
“I can’t get him any fitter, he’s probably close to his top now, I can’t get him looking any better, so going on that, he needs to improve more than I’ve got left.”
Despite the plunge in positivity, McNair will still shoot for the impossible and has a number of different race tactics playing through his mind.
“There’s a number of scenarios,” he said.
“We might have to get off her and get a lot further out.”
Last Saturday Hay List was ridden aggressively by ace hoop Glen Boss, but it wasn’t enough.
McNair said there was every chance Hay List could lead by four or five lengths in the Doomben 10,000 as a tactic.
“We’ve got to do something different,” he said.
Hoping to really get Hay List to his top, McNair is ready to screw the horse down and just let him run in the 10,000.
“What I intend to do is I’ll tighten the screws right up on him, which I’ve never done before,” he said.
“For Saturday week I’ll be trying to make sure I’ve got him as fit as possible.”
Of the Stradbroke, McNair was nearly 100 per cent sure Hay List wouldn’t be there.
“I was going to pull up stumps after the TJ and the main reason really is that the horse needs a spell,” McNair said.
“If I go onto the Stradbroke I only get three weeks (until the spring).
“If I pull up after the 10,000, I get five.
“It’s more for the future.”