He may be the country’s second best sprinter but only a small group of people were at Wyong on Thursday to watch jockey Glyn Schofield put Hay List through his paces in an exhibition gallop between races, trainer John McNair indicating at the meeting that the TJ Smith Stakes 2013 was looking less and less likely as a viable Group 1 target for the returning champ this autumn.
Statue Of Liberty gelding Hay List, now seven, is a triple Group 1 winner and their trophy collection would likely feature a handful more elite levels had they not come up against a freak in Black Caviar during their career.
Hay List’s most notable victory to date was in last year’s $1 million Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) where he set a metric weight carrying record with 58.5kg on his back, surpassing the 58kg carried by his arch nemesis Black Caviar in the classic the previous year.
The $2.5 million earner hasn’t raced since their second to Foxwedge in the William Reid Stakes back in March last year however with injury and a life-threatening bout of colic and then infection putting their career on hold.
It has been a long road to recovery for Hay List who had their first major public appearance yesterday, although few knew about the workout in advance.
Schofield said the slightly chubby horse felt good but he, like McNair, was unsure of whether or not they would be able to race in Sydney this season due to the schedule and their current fitness levels.
“His action felt very good and all the early signs are good,” Schofield told Sky Racing.
“It’s just the second time I’ve been on his back since the injury and he feels very good to me.
“He is carrying a bit of extra weight.”
McNair had previously indicated the $175,000 Group 2 Challenge Stakes (1000m) at Rosehill on March 30 would make a nice first-up run for his stable star.
But whether Hay List will be ready in time for that race, which he won back in 2011, is uncertain.
Ideally the Gosford-based trainer would love to see Hay List racing at home for their first few runs back after so long on the sidelines, but if they miss the Challenge Stakes then there are few suitable weight-for-age options between then and the $1 million Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) at Royal Randwick on April 13.
“He is about 635 or 640 kilos right now and of course he is going on a diet,” McNair said.
“He wasn’t out to do anything, but his ears pricked up when he could hear the crowd.
“It has been a while since he has been in that type of environment.
“I am not having any trouble with the leg that has kept him away for so long.
“If things continue to go well, he could be back racing in the autumn in the Challenge Stakes in Sydney or maybe the winter in Brisbane.”
While other sprinters could go into races like the Newmarket Handicap 2013 at Flemington in early March during the Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival, Hay List’s handicap rating has put an end to his handicap days.
If a run in Sydney is ruled out McNair said Hay List would be saved for a trip to Queensland for the Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival.
Last year Hay List travelled to the Sunshine State on the back of a stellar autumn in Sydney which included a second to Black Caviar in the TJ Smith Stakes and a big 3.5 length win in her absence in the Group 1 All Aged Stakes (1400m) in the wet at Randwick.
He was one of the stars of the Group 1 BTC Cup (1200m) at Doomben and finished a competitive two lengths away from his perennial conquer.
Black Caviar meanwhile will be greeted with much greater fanfare when she has her exhibition gallop at Caulfield on Saturday ahead of her return in the 2013 Lightning Stakes at Flemington on February 16.
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