Despite struggling to be race fit over the past few months Gosford horseman John McNair has named a trio of Group 1 race targets for his veteran sprinter Hay List this coming Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival.
The gallant old galloper has amassed over $2.55 million in prize money over his 25 start career to date which has produced 15 wins.
Despite being a rising eight-year-old with a host of injury and fitness injuries, the Statue Of Liberty gelding has been confirmed for a spring return.
A triple Group 1 winner and perennial elite level placegetter behind the now retired super mare Black Caviar Hay List hasn’t raced since their distant 10th in the Group 1 T.J. Smith Stakes (1200m).
In a race that turned out to be Black Caviar’s swansong Hay List was beaten 19 lengths in the mid-April showdown and has been out of action since suffering from a virus.
That is just the latest setback for the always-honest racehorse who has suffered everything from colic, breathing issues, hoof injuries and a life-threatening infection.
But despite all this McNair and connections are keen to press on with a spring campaign hoping the old boy can return to his former glory.
“The horse is improving in his fitness almost daily and he feels better than he’s felt in a long time,” he said.
“At the end of the day he’s going to have a nice, long, slow preparation, which means if anything small goes awry now then we’ve got plenty of time to do something about it.
“All he needs are a few things to go his way and I can’t see why he can’t get back to where he was.”
McNair has named one of Melbourne’s newest Group 1 races for their first major target with the $450,000 Group 1 A.J. Moir Stakes (1200m) under the lights at Moonee Valley on Friday September 27.
From there they will press onto the $1 million Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) back at the track on October 25 the evening before Cox Plate Day with the $1 million Group 1 Patinack Farm Classic (1200m) at Flemington on November 9 during the Melbourne Cup Carnival scheduled as their grand final.
The Moir Stakes and subsequent Melbourne focus was decided upon by McNair after the race was upgraded to elite level earlier this year.
“With the increased prize money in the Manikato and the elevation of the Moir to Group 1 status, it’s made Victoria our main focus this spring,” McNair said.
“I was going to kick him off in the (Group 3) Missile Stakes at Randwick on the 10th of August but we’ll probably wind his first run back a touch now because it would be a bit too early to fit in with the program in Melbourne.
“He’ll probably have one run in Sydney and then head down to Melbourne for the Moir.”