On a day Gai Waterhouse signalled her spring intentions with a host of barrier trial winners at Randwick, veteran Hay List's second place in an 800m heat was cause for optimism from his trainer John McNair.
Hay List's catalogue of injuries and illnesses is longer than most but not long enough to deter his trainer or his owners from another Group One campaign while he continues to show he wants to race.
The seven-year-old hasn't raced since finishing down the track in the TJ Smith won by his nemesis Black Caviar in April when he was still battling hoof injury which interrupted his autumn.
With regular partner Glyn Schofield aboard in Friday's trial, Hay List ran second to the Waterhouse-trained Knight Exemplar, one of 12 heat winners for the trainer.
"I was stunned how well he went," McNair said.
"And what pleased me more was that Glyn said his action was lovely.
"He's like the Hay List of old."
The Hay List of old won three Group One races and finished second on four occasions at the highest level to the now-retired Black Caviar.
He was rated the second best sprinter in the world behind the great mare in 2012 for his Newmarket Handicap win.
McNair said the first-up aim for Hay List was the Group Three Missile Stakes (1200m) on August 10.
"He will need another trial before then," he said.
"He still has a way to go fitness-wise. He's 620 kilos and I'd like him to be racing at around 600.
"I'll discuss it with (owners) Terry and Liz Davenport but I'd like to see him have two races in Sydney then go to Melbourne for races like the Manikato."
Melbourne is also on the agenda for many of the Waterhouse team, in particular last year's Melbourne Cup runner-up Fiorente who beat stablemates Carlton House and Glencadam Gold in a 1400m heat.
Fiorente is the second pick in early markets for this year's Cup with Puissance de Lune heading the betting.