Mark Oulaghan is set to start the star of his stable, Shadows Cast, fresh-up in the first leg of the Hawke’s Bay Triple Crown later this month.
Shadows Cast, winner of the Gr.1 Thorndon Mile (1600m) at Trentham last January, has been freshened since his last start on his home track on Anzac Day and Oulaghan is hoping to have him ready for the Gr.1 Tarzino Trophy (1400m) at Hastings on August 31.
“The plan is to get a trial into him then go straight into the Tarzino,” the Awapuni trainer said.
“He had six or seven weeks off after his run here and I’m happy with him.”
Shadows Cast has been nominated for all three Hawke’s Bay features, but isn’t likely to press on for the Gr.1 Livamol Classic (2040m) on October 5 after contesting the second leg, the Gr.1 Windsor Park Plate (1600m), on September 21.
“It’s pretty doubtful he’ll run in the last one (Livamol Classic),” Oulaghan said. “The mile race (the Windsor Park Plate) is his main aim and I think he’ll be pretty competitive in that.
“It’s going to be a bit tough going 1400m first-up in the Tarzino, but it should get him fitter for the second one.
“I’ll probably back off him after the mile race and set him for the Captain Cook Stakes (Gr.1, 1600m) at Trentham in early December.”
Shadows Cast recorded consecutive black type wins last season, taking the Gr.2 Manawatu Challenge Stakes (1400m) at Awapuni last December then the Thorndon Mile.
He was a creditable sixth in the Haunui Farm WFA Group One Classic (1600m) at Otaki, then eighth in the Gr.1 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes (2000m) in his first start beyond 1600m.
Oulaghan then freshened the son of Per Incanto to run a short head second to the smart up-and-comer Rock On Wood in the Listed Anzac Mile (1600m) at Awapuni on Anzac Day when giving the winner seven kilograms.
Shadows Cast, now a seven-year-old, has won almost a third of his 36 starts for owner Ron Cunningham and earned $435,202 in prizemoney. Of his 10 wins, his first black type victory came when deadheating for first with Son Of Maher in the 2017 Gr.2 Coupland’s Bakeries Mile (1600m) at Riccarton.
Oulaghan has just returned from his annual trip to Riccarton’s Grand National Festival of Racing and, though he had no joy with his two runners, Des De Jeu and Paddy Bourke, his highlight came when his former apprentice Tim Johnson registered his first jumps win aboard the John Wheeler-trained Abacus on Saturday.
“I was quite chuffed for him,” Oulaghan said. “He hasn’t had many rides over fences and he handled the horse well.”
Abacus was the seventh jumps ride for Johnson, who completed his apprenticeship early last season. He has had 75 wins on the flat, including two black type wins.
Oulaghan had no joy in his bid to add to his record of six Grand National Steeplechase (5600m) wins with his charge Des De Jeu, but he is satisfied the seven-year-old son of Mettre En Jeu showed enough with his fourth to It’s A Wonder to be back next year.
“He’s just a novice horse at this stage and I thought he went well for a horse still learning,” he said. “He fell in the Koral (Steeplechase, 4250m) on the first day, but that didn’t make a lot of difference to his chances in the Grand National.
“He came through it all right, but I’ll probably spell him now. He’s too much of a novice at this stage to go over the hill at Ellerslie (in the Great Northern Steeplechase, 6400m). He’ll keep for next year.”