The West

The Challenge Stakes is back on the agenda for outstanding sprinter Hay List as he moves closer to a return from injury and illness.

Trainer John McNair took Hay List for a day out at the Wyong races last week and Glyn Schofield gave him a leisurely canter around the track.

Although the horse wasn't physically taxed, McNair said the outing had given him a mental boost.

"If he's ready for the Challenge, that's where we'd like to run him," McNair said.

"I'd like to run him in a barrier trial at Warwick Farm on the 26th if I can get a trial on the course proper.

"If there's any hint he's not ready for that or the Challenge, we'll back off.

"But his demeanour and attitude are great. He really enjoyed the day out and I'm excited."

The Group Two Challenge Stakes (1100m) is at Warwick Farm on March 16.

Ranked the world's second best sprinter for 2012 behind Black Caviar, Hay List underwent emergency surgery for colic last April.

As he tried to stand up after the operation, he slipped and injured a leg.

They were the latest in a series of incidents that have plagued the seven-year-old throughout a career which has also featured three Group One wins including last year's Newmarket Handicap.

Hay List carried 58.5 kilograms to win the Newmarket, the highest weight carried to victory since Gold Stakes in 1959.

McNair has ruled him out of handicap racing which presents a dilemma as he tries to plan a campaign.

"I'd like to run him in the TJ Smith but that's four weeks after the Challenge and there's not a suitable race in between," he said.

"But it all depends on him."

Among Hay List's other Group One performances are four seconds behind Black Caviar. One of those was in the 2011 TJ Smith when she ran him down after he set up a big lead.

If all goes well the mare's comeback in the Lightning Stakes, there is a possible rematch on the cards at Randwick.

The West Australian

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