The time has finally come for Hay List to become a triple Group 1 winner, John McNair’s champion sprinter now odds-on favourite to take out the Doomben 10,000 after Thursday’s shock withdrawal of superstar mare Black Caviar.
Gosford horseman McNair couldn’t hide his ear-to-ear smile yesterday after hearing the news rival trainer Peter Moody had decided to spell the undefeated Black Caviar ahead of the spring, bypassing a fifth clash against Hay List in Saturday week’s $650,000 Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1350m).
“I’ll give you one word – woohoo,” McNair said.
“That’s one word that says a thousand.”
While Moody assured racing fans that Black Caviar, now a six-time elite level winner after her last-start success in the BTC Cup, was in good health and was simply up for a rest, McNair couldn’t help but wonder if there were actually fears there of Hay List finally turning the tables.
“Look, she could have gone around again and won, then gone to the paddock a spent force,” Moody said on Thursday.
“But this way she goes out on a high note.”
Although Moody was confident that Black Caviar would have defeated Hay List again in the 10,000, McNair was not so sure.
Talking of new tough riding tactics earlier in the week, McNair had said they were going to “screw him right down” talking about pushing Hay List into the biggest possible early lead in the Doomben 10,000 hoping to make Black Caviar turn on the accelerator sooner.
It’s possible this hard-hitting approach from McNair was in part to do with why Moody decided not to go on with Black Caviar in Brisbane, believing that Hay List would indeed outrun her or simply stretch her too much.
“I think she’s just come to the end of her preparation and Peter was smart enough to know it,” McNair said.
“It’s better to do this than go there and get beaten.”
Whatever the reason for Black Caviar’s absence from the Doomben 10,000, McNair is happy.
Five-year-old Hay List will now get a chance to add a third elite level win to his career without fear of another trouncing from the Black Flash.
McNair too was quick to give credit to Moody and his mare, who although has become his brick-wall in stopping Hay List from three Group 1 features this season, he also has great respect for.
“She has got to the stage where she doesn’t have to prove anything,” McNair said of Black Caviar.
“She’s simply the best sprinter we’ve ever seen, so good on Peter for looking after her.”
Bookies reacted accordingly yesterday, removing Black Caviar from the Doomben 10,000 markets and firming Hay List in from $5 to the raging $1.60 favourite.
The next-shortest priced entry is George Ryder Stakes and Doncaster Mile runner-up Love Conquers All at $7.50.
“All I have to do is look after my bloke now,” McNair said.
“He’s done sensational since last Saturday and has improved.
“He’s come through the race (the BTC Cup) exceptionally well and I think this run (the Doomben 10,000) will probably pull us up, more than likely.
“He’s a bit like her, he’s had a long preparation.
“We won’t make any decisions until after Saturday week’s race.
“All I’m focussing on is Saturday week’s race now she’s gone I’ll just be terribly careful now because the last thing we want is something to go wrong with him.”
There is still a small chance McNair will give Hay List a third and final run during the Brisbane Winter Carnival with the galloper still entered for the $1 million Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm next month.
For fans wanting to get an early glimpse of Hay List, they may just have to wait with McNair likely to shelve plans to display him in an exhibition gallop between races at this Saturday’s Doomben Cup Day.
“I probably won’t do that now but I’ll have a look at him in the morning before I decide if I need to gallop him or not at Doomben,” he said.
“I don’t want to push buttons I don’t have to.
“Glyn Schofield was going to fly up on Saturday to ride him in the gallop and then go back to Sydney to ride.”
Some of the country’s bookmakers have refunded early bets taken on Black Caviar for the Doomben 10,000 and are also offering special markets on Hay List now he looks so hard to beat.
“Not only have we given punters their money back on Black Caviar, we’ve also matched their original bet on the mighty mare with a free bet of the same size on Hay List,” Haydn Lane from Sportsbet said.
“Hay List has been so unlucky in running into Black Caviar in four of his last six starts, but we’re right behind him this time and no doubt these punters are too given they’ve now got a free swing on him.”