After earlier expressing concerns over Hay List’s mental fitness heading into Saturday’s Doomben 10,000, this morning Gosford horseman John McNair was more upbeat – Hay List drawing well with barrier two for the Brisbane Winter Carnival feature.
Hay List will start one of the shortest-priced favourites in recent history for $650,000 Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1350m) on Saturday after a field of just nine horses were accepted for this year’s showdown.
This morning it was revealed Hay List, reuniting with champion hoop and regular rider Glyn Schofield, will jump from barrier two in the Doomben 10,000 as he attempts his 15th win from 21 starts – his third at elite level.
While McNair said the barrier wasn’t 100 per cent perfect, he couldn’t complain about the gate.
“Can’t complain about that,” McNair said.
“If I’d drawn four or five it would have been the ultimate but pretty hard to draw a bad barrier in a nine horse field.”
Dominating the markets at $1.50 since the withdrawal of superstar Black Caviar, Hay List comes into the 10,000 on the back of a tough campaign.
The striking sprinter has had five runs this season, facing Moody’s masterful mare Black Caviar in three of these.
“I think the real relevant fact is that those (five runs) have been in three different states,” McNair said.
“If he were at home I wouldn’t have a problem getting 12 or 20 runs in a preparation.”
Hay List was trounced by the queen on all three occasions, including his gallant last-start second when he came within two lengths of her in the Group 1 BTC Cup (1200m) on May 14.
Proving just how big a star Hay List is in his own right, however, is that on the two occasions Black Caviar was not there to rain on his parade this prep, Hay List bagged two wins victories in the Group 2 Challenge Stakes (1000m) at Warwick Farm on March 27 and the Group 1 All Aged Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on April 23.
McNair was concerned that having been up since mid-February and the effort of continually racing at top gear against a freak like the ‘Black Flash’, Hay List may be mentally spent.
“He looks terrific,” McNair said of Hay List.
“I’m just a little concerned about his mental aspect.
“He’s not as happy as he was when he arrived (in Brisbane).”
An all-round horseman, McNair knows Hay List and has seen signs that his stable ace is a little out of sorts.
“I know the horse that well – he’s a little more anxious than normal,” McNair said.
Although Hay List has acted up slightly in his stall, McNair was still confident he would salute for the punters at Doomben on Saturday after performing well in trackwork this morning.
“He’s still a happy horse,’ McNair said.
“Shane Scriven had a ride on him this morning and reported that he worked well.”
Scriven, who enjoyed a second Doomben Cup win aboard Scenic Shot last Saturday, partnered with Hay List with McNair keeping the hoop in mind should Schofield ever be unavailable to ride the Statue of Liberty gelding in the future.
“It would be nice for him to have some experience on the horse,” McNair said.
“You never know when we might have to call on him.”
For Saturday, however, McNair has faith that Schofield will give Hay List every opportunity to win and won’t be giving the champion jockey too many instructions for the ride.
“I’m going to leave the riding up to Glen Schofield,” McNair said.
“I’m not going to interfere with Glen riding the horse.
“I do my thing and he does his.”
McNair did hint that Hay List would likely lead from that draw, unless there was a big challenge from a rival to take the front-running position.
“We won’t fire him right up, if something wants to go really quick we’ll probably let him go,” he said.
There is still a chance Hay List will be given a third run in Brisbane this season, McNair’s decision on whether to accept him for the $1 million Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) next month pending how he pulls up after the Doomben 10,000.
“If he were to win the 10,000 really well and pull up well then there’s a fair chance that he’ll go on to the Stradbroke,” McNair said.
“We’ll decide that on Monday or Tuesday.”