You must feel for John McNair and the crew involved with Hay List. In any other era we'd salute a champion sprinter. But Hay List has run into an equine one-off.
She is Black Caviar. The wonder horse, undefeated in 19 race starts. She has equalled the Australian record for consecutive wins, having joined Desert Gold and Gloaming on the list. ''I just want to take my hat off to that mare because she really toughed it out and she touched me today,'' Black Caviar's race-day passenger Luke Nolen said at Flemington on Saturday. ''She showed courage.''
She had just won a second Lightning Stakes and overcome an unorthodox preparation. She had backed up, run Saturday to Saturday, for the first time in her career. She was coming back in distance, not progressing upwards, which is standard.
It mattered not, as Black Caviar was intent on breaking equine land-speed records. And she has got Hay List to thank. The only horse to have made Black Caviar fans sweat.
''She came home her last three [600 metres] in 31.82 seconds,'' said Hay List's jockey Glyn Schofield. ''You can't go any quicker than that unless you are dropped down a cliff.''
A South African, Schofield has ridden around the world. He knows racehorses. To think Nolen went for Black Caviar before Schofield did on Hay List. It was passing the 350m mark. ''The chips were down, she showed a lot of courage,'' Nolen said. ''I've just got to take my hat off to that mare, she's just bloody wonderful.''
Look at the numbers. Dissecting those figures mentioned above, it emerged Black Caviar ran 9.98 seconds for the 200m split between the 600m and 400m. Has a horse in these parts gone any faster? Can they go any faster?
''He [Hay List] really had a crack at her,'' Schofield said. It was round No. 5 and each time Black Caviar has emerged triumphant, although the winning margin is narrowing.
''I think when we got to the 200m, he [Nolen] was really putting the pressure to her and she had to find,'' Schofield said. ''I knew then we had a race on our hands but probably that race fitness that she had, and we didn't have, may have been the big difference.''
Maybe, maybe not. Who knows? To think only months ago Hay List was fighting for his life at the Randwick Equine Centre. Not long after finishing second to Black Caviar in the BTC Cup at Doomben in June, Hay List picked up a viral infection. Then a bout of colic.
It didn't look good but he returned. And horseman McNair went about plotting another group 1 from his central coast training complex. The Lightning was picked out and it wasn't supposed to be on Black Caviar's radar.
''It's a long way to come to get beaten,'' Schofield said. ''It seems every time we race her, and as well as he does, she always beats us.
''The upside is he's back and back to his best, it seems. Something that people doubted he could ever achieve again.
''A lot of people have knocked John but he [deserves] full credit for getting this bloke back to this position.
''I knew he wouldn't give in and he didn't, he just kept responding, which is a great feature of his.''
Again Hay List beat the rest but not the best. And Black Caviar's trainer, Peter Moody, knows one thing. The guy who has managed the career of an athlete which has transcended her own sport feels for the Hay List team.
''Any time she's been up for a fight, he's the only horse that's made her have to fight,'' Moody said.
''With all due respect, he's a great horse, he's just unfortunate that he's run into an equine freak.''