Trainer John McNair believes that champion sprinter Hay List is close to his best after the rising eight-year-old finished second behind Knight Exemplar in a barrier trial at Royal Randwick yesterday.
Hay List was ridden outside the leader for the majority of the 800 metre barrier trial but was unable to go past Knight Exemplar when asked for an extra effort in the final furlong.
Despite failing to win the trial, McNair is confident that Hay List is only one run away from his best form that saw him win the 2010 Manikato Stakes (1200m), 2011 All Aged Stakes (1400m) and 2012 Newmarket Handicap (1200m), all at Group 1 level, and challenge equine superstar Black Caviar in the 2011 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) and 2012 Lightning Stakes (1000m).
“He feels to me like the Hay List of old,” McNair told TVN after the barrier trial.
“He is 100 per cent sound; I’d say he feels like he did three or four weeks before the Lightning Stakes two years ago.
“He had a real big blow, one of the biggest blows I’ve seen him have after a gallop so that says to me there is good improvement to come.
“I’ve still got to get about 20kg off him but the most important thing is that he is sound.”
The Statue of Liberty gelding has not appeared at the races since finishing tenth behind Black Caviar in the T.J. Smith Stakes (1200m) at Randwick in April but McNair is hopeful he will be ready for a return in the Group 3 Missile Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on August 10.
“The perfect scenario would be to trial in about 10 days and then have a couple more up our sleeve before his first-up run but with that in mind I’ll just make sure he doesn’t trial over more than 900m,” the Gosford-based trainer said.
Hay List has battled a litany of injuries in his racing career with a virus, breathing difficulties, a serious bout of colic as well as hoof and knee problems keeping from the track.
The triple Group 1 winner will be chasing his first victory since his record breaking win in the Newmarket Handicap in March last year, where he carried 58.5 kilos to deny runner-up Buffering his first Group 1 victory.