Racing: Walker prepares for return over hurdles

Michael Walker. Photo / APN
Michael Walker. Photo / APN

The in-form African Heat is being groomed as a potential jumper and jockey Michael Walker could be along for the ride.

Walker has combined with the Robert Smerdon-trained 5-year-old for three wins from as many rides including a 2413m race at Mornington yesterday.

Smerdon said African Heat would embark on a jumps career next year.

"African Heat will go jumping next year and he [Walker] tells me he has a ticket to ride over jumps," Smerdon said.

Walker confirmed he had qualified to ride over jumps in his native New Zealand. "I even came fourth in a Grand National," he said.

The 2007 Grand National at Riccarton was Walker's first jumps race ride and came about by accident when the multiple group one winning jockey was available after a mix-up over Striking's rider.

His previous experience had been limited to jumps trials and workouts.

Just days after connections of Black Caviar announced her indefinite break from racing, Australia's second-best sprinter Hay List is on the road to a full and remarkable recovery.

Trainer John McNair declared he was increasingly optimistic about the chances of Hay List returning after another bout of knee surgery last week.

The grand sprinter's career was at the crossroads when he injured a knee shortly after undergoing emergency surgery for colic in April.

"He had another operation last Wednesday and a very large piece of bone was taken out of the back of the knee, about the size of a macadamia nut," said McNair yesterday.

"He has recovered extremely well from the operation, a bit too well. We're trying to keep him as quiet as possible, which isn't easy to do.

"The horse is remarkable. I'm starting to grow more and more confident about the fact he will race again."

McNair said Hay List would have an arthroscope on his knee in October or November and he hoped the 7-year-old could resume light work early next year.

"He's the reason I'm still training," he said.

Hay List scored one of his finest wins in the Newmarket Handicap at Flemington in March but has not raced since his shock defeat by Foxwedge in the William Reid Stakes.

- AAP

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