Despite facing an uphill battle with his gun galloper Hay List suffering from a leg infection, determined Gosford horseman John McNair is keeping his hopes up and hasn’t ruled the dual Group 1 winner out of contention for a Hong Kong campaign at the end of the year.
Statue Of Liberty gelding Hay List emerged as one of Australia’s true turf champions last year, the five-year-old winning a string of Group races before coming face to face with the best in the business, the Peter Moody-trained Black Caviar.
Hay List has been beaten out of four additional elite level victories to date by superlative sprinter Black Caviar, but has still achieved plenty to be proud of on the track including wins in the Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) last September and the Group 1 All Aged Stakes (1400m) at Randwick in April.
Last start Hay List ran second behind Black Caviar in the Group 1 BTC Cup (1200m) at Brisbane on May 14, before suffering a cut to his leg that developed into a nasty infection that in turn ruled him out of a run in the Doomben 10,000 and forced McNair to spell him.
Battling the infection ever since, McNair at one time worried Hay List would not make it through despite the horse being in the best hands residing at the Randwick Equine Centre, the trainer is now feeling more optimistic and has continued plans to showcase his recovering star overseas.
McNair has embarked on a scouting mission in Hong Kong, inspecting the quarantine and stabling facilities there with the aim to have Hay List ready for a tilt at the Hong Kong International Raceday at Sha Tin in December.
“I was keen to come and see the facilities, whenever a trip does become a possibility, and everything looks top class,” McNair told the South China Morning Post.
If all goes to plan the most likely target for Hay List will be the Group 1 Hong Kong Mile (1600m), but McNair knows plenty has to go right before the trip becomes a certainty.
“Whether it’s this year or some other time, we will know more in the next week or so,” he said.
To date Hay List has not been tested over a distance greater than 1400 metres, but as well as being confident his horse has the grit to overcome his adverse health, McNair is also adamant Hay List could step up the mile without issue.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) is now looking at being host to two of Australia’s premier thoroughbreds with Black Caviar a possibility for the Group 1 Hong Kong Sprint (1200m).
HKJC officials have been working around the clock with the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) to improve the current quarantine procedures for Australian horses travelling from Hong Kong to Australia.
As it stands, the situation has horses spending a required two months in quarantine, but officials are expectant that this time can be cut to one month.
“Hopefully we are now in a position to accomplish our goals as far as getting Black Caviar and other top Australian horses, like Hay List, for December,” Bill Nader, HKJC executive director of racing, said.