Shadows Cast could live up to his name if he takes the spotlight after Saturday’s Group 1 Thorndon Mile (1600m) at Trentham.
The Mark Oulaghan-trained Per Incanto gelding has certainly emerged from the shadows of his contemporary top milers, having already won the Group 2 Coupland’s Bakeries Mile (1600m) at Riccarton this season, and he would have the credentials to claim the billing as New Zealand’s leading 1600m horse if victorious on Saturday.
“He’s really come to it the last three or four months. He’s always shown he had the ability, but he’s really stepped up his game lately,” Oulaghan said.
A winner of eight of his 23 starts, Shadows Cast was Group 3 placed at three but now at full maturity he has claimed feature wins at his last three starts, albeit that his Coupland’s Mile win was a dead-heat with Son Of Maher.
“The main aim was the Coupland’s and he went down there and went quite well and it’s just been a natural progression on to the Thorndon,” Oulaghan said.
“We’ve spaced his races since and just given him a sprint into the Thorndon, just as we gave him a sprint into the Coupland’s. He’s worked up pretty well since that win the other day and we’re happy.
“You are never really sure what to expect and the field hasn’t come up as strong as it looked like it might have but there are still some decent ones in there.
“Alysha [Collett] has ridden him right through this campaign and gets on well with him and he has drawn gate six, that gives her a few options. He has raced well going forward and I don’t know how much speed is going to be on early, but she should get a nice run and he should be pretty competitive.”
TAB bookmakers installed Shadows Cast a $9.50 fifth favourite for the Thorndon Mile in a market headed by Love Affair at $3.20 and Hiflyer at $5.50.
Oulaghan said the Ron Cunningham-raced Shadows Cast would likely progress to the Gr.1 Haunui Farm WFA Classic (1600m) at Otaki on February 24, with the Hawke’s Bay triple crown series next spring his long-term aim.
“On his day, he should be a chance there. I’d like to try him over 2000m, but not this season. He settles well and relaxes so touch wood, he should run out a strong 2000 metres,” Oulaghan said