After constantly finishing second to Black Caviar throughout the autumn and winter fans of Hay List were hoping that a good spell would see him back and challenging again during the spring.
More options in Melbourne and the chance of Black Caviar going overseas give him a huge opportunity to add a swag of race wins to his resume during Australia’s biggest racing period.
Unfortunately though the news isn’t good and trainer John McNair is reporting that the gelding is not improving from the leg infection which saw him ruled out of the Doomben 10,000.
Things appeared to be getting better last week but it has re-swollen and requires more medical treatment.
Hay List has won two Group 1 and would have had a few more were he not constantly faced with Black Caviar.
The Doomben 10,000 was to be a golden opportunity for him to add to his All Aged Stakes win in Sydney so the infection couldn’t have come at a worse time.
He went straight to the spelling paddock and even had to deal with a bout of colic at the same time.
Unfortunately it now looks like he’s back to square one with the infection and every week it doesn’t heal pushed his return back even further.
McNair says the problems have caused him to have a major re-think given just last week they were making plans on the basis that the problems had been fixed.
“On Friday we actually thought we were out of the woods and we slowly started to take the antibiotics away from him, but the leg has blown up again,” McNair said.
“We have had our concerns with him and obviously we will have to go back on the antibiotics.
“It just goes to show you that you can never relax with some of these things.”
“If this doesn’t improve soon the spring might be out.
“I won’t look at anything until I’m comfortable the horse is over everything.
“When he’s back in work I’ll start thinking about looking for races then.
“Looking at it at the present time, the way it is, this is going to drag on for a quite a bit longer than what I was anticipating, so it’s starting to look more the spring is a little less likely, put it like that.”
Hay List had a bumper spring season in 2010 with back to back wins in the Group 3 McEwen Stakes, Group 1 Manikato Stakes and Group 2 Gilgai Stakes.
He then went on to the Group 1 Patinack Farm Classic and met Black Caviar for the very first time.
Leading into that race he had leg problems as well and it showed on race day where he finished 5th, extremely rare for a horse which is usually always in the top three at least.
Hay List was seen by vets again this week to ensure there were no new issues and apart from the obvious he was cleared.
“There is not soreness there which is a good sign, but seeing this leg blow up the way it is, that is a concern,” McNair said.
“He (the vet) wants to keep assessing him,” McNair said.
The vet will examine him again today to see how well the new round of antibiotics are working.
McNair is understandably on edge regarding the fitness of his star gelding, especially considering how serious leg infections can be.
This couldn’t have been made clearer than by the recent death of Hot Danish who turned for the worse in a matter of days.
“I think it’s frustration as much as anything and also the knowledge that a horse like Hot Danish, that something similar caused her demise,” McNair said.
Obviously McNair would love Hay List to be a feature in the spring and so to would race organisers given his crowd pulling power.
If he’s not 100 percent though McNair will have zero hesitations in pulling the plug altogether.
“If we miss the spring, then we miss the spring,” he said.
“That does not worry me, I would be disappointed, but it would not worry me as once the horse gets through it that is all that really matters.”