Gun sprinter Hay List recorded the biggest win of his career when taking out the Newmarket Handicap on Saturday. In an era where the highest superlatives are saved for Black Caviar, where does the son of Statue Of Liberty stand?
Hay List carried a huge top-weight impost 58.5 kilograms to victory.Hay List is a three-time Group One winner that is best known as the horse that has troubled Black Caviar on three occasions.
But there is more to the John McNair-trained galloper than being best man to the mare on her biggest days. Hay List may not tweet like @BlackCaviar2006 but he’s a star in his own right.
After winning his first eight starts in Perth, Hay List was transferred to McNair’s Gosford stables and he burst onto the scene with an emphatic five-length win in the Healy Stakes during the 2010 Brisbane Winter Carnival.
The big bay (or brown) gelding then returned in the spring of that year where he claimed three group wins, including his maiden Group One in the Manikato Stakes at Moonee Valley.
He faced off with Black Caviar for the first time in the 2010 Patinack Farm Classic at Flemington.
Hay List nursed a leg injury into the Patinack Farm Classic and despite being passed fit for the clash with the champion mare, recorded the worse performance of his career.
Hay List finished sixth behind Black Caviar on the day she chose to announce herself as the best sprinter in the world.
Black Caviar had shot into stardom. Hay List, seemingly, was a beaten pretender.
The five-year old Hay List then returned in the Lightning Stakes with another injury cloud hanging over his head and again proved no match for Black Caviar – this time he finished a well-beaten second.
It was this defeat in the 2011 Lightning Stakes that was the turning point in the career of Hay List.
In retrospect Hay List may never have been in the physical condition to challenge Black Caviar, but consecutive spankings at the hands of the mare, in the space of three months, served to severely hamper his reputation.
In his next start, he won the Group 2 Challenge Stakes before being declared 100 per cent fit for a third clash with the mare.
And it was after the 2011 TJ Smith Stakes at Randwick that the racing world stood up and took notice of Hay List. It was probably the first time Black Caviar was placed under pressure in a race and it was Hay List’s doing.
In a bold move, jockey Glyn Schofield, who has partnered Hay List in ten of his 22 starts, went for home at the 600 metre mark.
At the home turn Black Caviar was being hard ridden and looked to be in some trouble; by the furlong pole she had the race wrapped up.
Hay List was well beaten at the winning post – the final margin was three lengths, but it was the first time the racing public was properly shown the true quality of the former West Australian.
There was no appearance of Black Caviar on the final day of the Sydney Carnival. With the spotlight firmly placed upon him, Hay List destroyed the All Aged field to claim his second group 1 in a canter; his winning margin for the Weight-for-Age race was three and a half lengths.
Hay List was then sent to Brisbane for a fourth meeting with Caviar; this time in the BTC Cup.
Glen Boss took the ride and despite stretching the world-champion sprinter for a second time, Hay List proved no match for Black Caviar in the final 100 metres, eventually being defeated by two lengths.
A leg infection kept Hay List away from the track for nine months. His next start was in last month’s Lightning Stakes. Against a slightly exposed Black Caviar, Hay List won plenty of admirers.
Hay List headed Black Caviar at the 300 and had her in a spot of bother. Luke Nolen pulled the stick and after some hard riding, Black Caviar regained control and held off the valiant Hay List to record her 19th, hardest fought and best victory.
On the weekend Hay List carried the biggest weight to victory in the Newmarket Handicap since 1959. It was the crowning glory for a horse that has too often been overshadowed by the greatness and grandeur of the phenomenal Black Caviar.
Saturday was Hay List’s time in the sun. And didn’t he deserve it.
Is Hay List a champion?
There can only be one champion in one region, at one distance, at a particular time. And this is undoubtedly Black Caviar. Where then does that leave Hay List?
Before the weekend, the English Timeform ratings ranked Hay List as the equal 18th-best-horse and the fourth-best sprinter in the word behind Peter Moody’s mare, Singaporean Rocket Man and Australian Sepoy.
As far as I’m concerned Hay List is the second best sprinter in the world.
Rocket Man was outstanding winning in Singapore two Sundays back but he hasn’t won a Group One race this season.
Sepoy is an outstanding colt that will do Australia proud in Dubai, but was found out in the Oakleigh Plate against older horses.
Better than a great horse, Hay List is the best male sprinter in the world.
There’s still a lot to play out in the Hay List story – a 2013 overseas campaign has been touted and more clashes with Black Caviar in the back end of this year are almost certain – but he’s already beginning to forge a legacy.
It’s nowhere near over for the six-year old gelding that’s trained at Gosford on the New South Wales central coast but if Hay List retired tomorrow, with a record of 15 wins and five places from 22 starts, here’s how I’d remember him:
A grand, world-class, multiple Group One winning sprinter that not only pushed world champion Black Caviar into reaching new heights but won respect and acclaim for his valour, spirit and consistency.