The pressure on Hay List to deliver Gosford trainer John McNair with a third Group 1 win on Saturday has been building since the withdrawal of glamour mare Black Caviar, McNair admittedly nervous for his odds-on Doomben starter.
Earlier in the week, astute horseman McNair expressed concerns over Hay List’s mental fitness heading into the $650,000 Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1350m) on Saturday, and he just wants the race to be done and dusted.
“I just want to get it out of the way,” McNair said.
Five-year-old Hay List, a dual Group 1 winner, has the weight of the punters on his shoulders this weekend.
Expectation for Hay List to win the Doomben 10,000, and win well, is so high that the hulking sprinter has been backed into the raging odds-on favourite at $1.30.
There is also the fact that the past three Doomben 10,000 winners were all the favourites, adding to the strain on Hay List to hit the line first continue the trend.
Hay List is considered by the best in the business, including Black Caviar’s trainer Peter Moody, as the country’s second best horse.
The gelding burst onto the scene back in 2009 winning eight of his nine starts that year.
Hay List produced the same blistering form in 2010 winning four of his five opening starts before meeting his match in the ‘Black Flash’.
After an injury marred lead-up, Hay List came face-to-face with the now six-time Group 1 winning mare Black Caviar for the first time in the Group 1 Patinack Farm Classic (1200m) last November and couldn’t get within 11 lengths of her when finishing sixth.
This year Hay List has had five starts, running and losing to Black Caviar on three occasions including his last start second to her in the Group 1 BTC Cup (1200m) at Doomben a fortnight ago.
With Moody announcing the spelling of his star sprinter last week, money has poured in for Hay List to salute in the Doomben 10,000.
His short odds are understandable considering in the two starts where Black Caviar was not there to trounce him this season, Hay List twice saluted when winning the Group 2 Challenge Stakes (1000m) and the Group 1 All Aged Stakes (1400m).
Initially thrilled with the removal of Black Caviar from the Doomben 10,000 picture, McNair now wishes he’d only just heard the news instead of having had mounting anxiety over Hay List hitting the mark.
“I would have preferred Peter (Moody) to pull the plug on Black Caviar this Friday, rather than a week and a half ago,” McNair said.
“I keep waiting for something to go wrong.”
McNair noted Hay List seemed a little despondent in his Brisbane stables throughout the week, but has confirmed the horse has since settled and looks in good health now both physically and mentally.
“Everything is perfect at the moment and he’s as happy as he’s been, but there’s still another three days to go and things can change pretty quickly with him,” McNair said on Wednesday.
“It would be nice if they could run it (the Doomben 10,000) today.
“I don’t need to do much more with him now because to my eye he is perfect.”
McNair is also concerned that with the dry, windy weather in Brisbane, the course proper at Doomben may firm too far for Hay List.
“A dead 4 would be perfect but I wouldn’t like to see it improve too much more than that,” he said.
After receiving 31mm of rain from Saturday, Doomben was rated a slow 6 on Wednesday morning according to Bill Shuck.
With no further rain predicted, Shuck tipped the track to improve to McNair’s desired dead 4 by Saturday morning.
In regards to whether McNair will continue in Brisbane with Hay List after Saturday and run him in the $1 million Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm next month, the trainer said that would depend on how he pulls up after the 10,000.
“We will see how he pulls up and if he’s OK then the other race (the Stradbroke) is there,” McNair said.
“If not, we will just as happily pack up and go home.”
Current Stradbroke Handicap markets have Hay List as the equal $4.80 favourite with boom three-year-old Sincero.