Despite Tuesday’s dramas surrounding the hefty weight allocation for John McNair’s hulking Gosford gallop Hay List for the upcoming Newmarket Handicap 2012, connections have confirmed that they will take on the handicapper and give their champ the chance to defy history in the $1 million Flemington feature.
Won 12 months ago by the still undefeated queen Black Caviar, this year’s edition of the $1 million Group 1 Lexus Newmarket Handicap (1200m) runs on Saturday March 10 and 39 horses are still officially among the entries.
While defending hero Black Caviar is in the mix, having been handed 61.5kg there looks to be little chance of trainer Peter Moody risking her in the race.
The next heaviest-weighted of the Newmarket hopefuls is then Hay List on 58.5kg, a weight allocation publically slammed by his trainer McNair and described as a ‘shock’ by his owners from the WA-based Davenport family.
Racing Victoria’s Senior Handicapper Neil Jennings justified the weight saying it was 2.5kg more than Hay List was given last year, before being withdrawn and failing to run, and he had gone on to win two more Group races including the Group 1 All Aged Stakes since then.
McNair was still outraged and said he would advise Hay List’s owners to not only bypass the Newmarket Handicap 2012, but to also not run their horse in Melbourne for the remainder of the autumn carnival.
Connections, however, have gone against this advice and will give Hay List the opportunity to set a modern day weight carrying record for the Newmarket, the last horse to carry 58.5kg or more to victory being Gold Stakes with 60kg in 1959.
Since then the heaviest weight carried by a Newmarket Handicap winner was 58kg by Shaftesbury Avenue in 1991.
“I think he was always a big chance to run in the race,” Peter Davenport said.
“We are obviously concerned about the weights of the other horses but after having a good long chat with John and Terry we reckon we have enough horse to be there at the finishing post.
“It will end up being a record weight in the Newmarket so we are very touchy on it, but I think that the big fellow deserves his chance.
“I think it would be a shame for everyone if we did not come down and make a good race of it.
“The horse is working enormous otherwise we would have really scratched our heads, but based on his recent work we think he has improved.”
Following the Newmarket, Hay List’s next major assignment will be the $1 million Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) at Royal Randwick on April 14.
The news Hay List is running is likely to have a mixed reception with the punters that have backed the favourite in the futures Newmarket Handicap odds at Luxbet.
While it is good news that their ante-post bets haven’t been lost, how he will handle giving this kind of weight to a crack field of exciting up-and-comers is a genuine unknown.
Hay List resumed after a long recuperating break with a first-up second to the best in the business Black Caviar in the Group 1 Lightning Stakes (1000m) back on February 18 at Flemington carrying 58.5kg with Glyn Schofield aboard.
The reversal of decisions for the Newmarket will mean Schofield must seek a release from his previously confirmed ride aboard Cox Plate winner Pinker Pinker in the $350,000 Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) at Warwick Farm in Sydney on the same day.
For the Newmarket Hay List will give a minimum 2kg to his rivals with Emirates Stakes winner Albert The Fat weighted on 56.5kg.
While Hay List remains the firm $2.80 favourite in the Luxbet Newmarket Handicap odds, there are some smart youngsters closing the gap who will hold the definite weight advantage.
Of these are the likes of Jason Warren’s Bel Esprit four-year-old Bel Sprinter ($5 Luxbet), Joe Pride’s recent Group 1 Apollo Stakes winner Rain Affair ($6 Luxbet) and the John O’Shea-trained Group 1 performing colt Foxwedge ($7 Luxbet).
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