Will he run or won’t he? That’s the question everyone is asking of the John McNair-trained Hay List ahead of the $125,000 Group 3 Missile Stakes (1200m) this weekend where Hugh Bowman is on standby for the ride.
Big race specialist Bowman is waiting to hear from the Gosford-based McNair whether or not his Western Australian-owned Statue Of Liberty eight-year-old Hay List is a certainty to resume racing at Randwick on Saturday in the Missile.
If he does it will be their first run since a distant 10th to arch rival Black Caviar in her swansong race, the Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) in mid-April.
Bowman will also be replacing the veteran’s regular rider Glyn Schofield who is out on suspension.
Schofield copped the careless riding ban for his ride on Champagne Cath at Rosehill last Saturday giving McNair a bit of a dilemma to deal with for Hay List’s resuming run.
A triple Group 1 winner, Hay List has suffered many setbacks over the past few years spending more time on the sidelines than the race track.
Among their worst tribulations are colic attacks, life-threatening infection and most recently knee problems and a bruised hoof that saw him scratched from The Galaxy during the autumn.
While McNair is confident they have overcome all of that, Hay List’s mid-field finish in a Randwick trial over 1000m last week has him skeptical over their race fitness for Saturday.
“He isn’t as fit as I’d like him to be,” McNair told The West Australian.
“We are a bit behind with him, but as far as the late spring goes everything is perfect.
“The hoof has taken longer than we thought to overcome. He is an eight-year-old now and older horses take longer.
“His knee is almost looking normal.
“I’ve tried to keep the weight off him and keep him under 612kg.
“I have to keep it under check otherwise there is too much pressure on his legs.
“There will never be another horse recover like him. He had fractures through the whole knee.
“One of the biggest problems with those injuries is the flexibility in the ligaments behind the knee.
“We have done hours and hours of physio with him, where he is now at a stage of about 90 per cent flexibility.”
Still the horse has been accepted for the Missile Stakes, one of eight in the field.
Likely favourite is Joe Pride’s resuming speedster Rain Affair who showed they were gearing up for a big spring with a nine and a half winning Randwick trial over 800m on August 2.
Other more notable hopes then include recent Civic Stakes winner Mic Mac who will relish getting back to weight-for-age after carrying a big 60.5kg to second behind Under The Sun in the Winter Stakes last month, and Oakleigh Plate winning mare Mrs Onassis.
If all goes well McNair is also looking at the $175,000 Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m) on August 24 as the next run for Hay List.
That could end up being his first start for the new season however with McNair saying he would not like to take on known mudlark Rain Affair in the Missile if the track was too rain-affected.
“It would be nice if he was to run on Saturday because there is a 1400m a fortnight later,” he said.
“I think now he is that bit older he might be better off where he can get out of the gates and get into a rhythm.”
Randwick is currently a Dead (5) but could deteriorate if any rain falls between now and race day.