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Shadows Cast brings happy days

17 November 2017, 1:32 p.m.

It was happy days for trainer Mark Oulaghan and owner Ron Cunningham on Wednesday after their charge Shadows Cast won the Gr.2 Coupland’s Bakeries Mile (1600m) at Riccarton, albeit in a dead-heat with the Michael and Matthew Pitman-trained Son of Maher.

Ridden by premiership leading jockey Alysha Collett, Shadows Cast jumped well from his wide gate and was on the speed for the entirety of the race before being met at the finish line by the late closing Son of Maher.

Mark Oulaghan Photo: Race Images

“It is always good to win a race like that,” Oulaghan said. “We were happy with the way the horse raced and he drew 12 and she (jockey Alysha Collett) had to use him up a fair bit early, so it was a good tough run.

“We were happy with the performance, I guess to win it outright would have been really good but we’re not complaining.”

Oulaghan was rapt for long-time owner Cunningham, who bought Shadows Cast after the 2014 New Zealand Bloodstock South Island Yearling Sale.

“He was passed in there and then we bought him after the sale,” Oulaghan said.

“Ron had actually bought one of his relations from the same family 12 or 15 years ago. He was quite a good sprinter and that is what attracted Ron to the family.

“He’s getting on quite a bit and he has raced quite a few horses over the years, so it is good to see him getting a good one.”

The Group victory also meant a lot to Oulaghan, whose training career spans more than three decades.

The son of a Woodville veterinarian, he grew up in the once thriving central districts township which has played host to many great New Zealand horsemen, so it was only a natural progression that he would turn his hand to training horses.

“I was always keen on horses and my father was a vet in Woodville and he did quite a bit of horse work there,” Oulaghan said.

“There were a lot of racehorses in Woodville in those days with big stables there. I was always interested and just started off as an owner-trainer and went from there.

“When I was a kid I used to work for a few trainers like Ian Bradbury and Eric Ropiha. There was also an old blacksmith over there called Bill Pratt, I used to do a bit with him.”

Oulaghan began his training career in Woodville before moving to Awapuni racecourse in Palmerston North twenty years ago.

“When I was over there (Woodville), that was when Murray Baker was there, Bruce Marsh was there and Jeff Lynds. It was quite a strong centre 30 years ago.”

He has trained some great horses over the years, but highlights Gr.1 Auckland Cup (3200m) winner Who Shot Thebarman as his best horse to date.

Who Shot Thebarman Photo: Trish Dunell Photography

The Yamanin Vital gelding won six of his nine starts in New Zealand for Oulaghan before transferring to the barn of leading Sydney trainer Chris Waller.

He has gone on to run in three Gr.1 Melbourne Cups (3200m) and was set to start in his fourth this month before an elevated temperature led to his withdrawal.

Who Shot Thebarman has accrued more than A$3million in prizemoney and was a last-start winner of the Gr.2 Moonee Valley Gold Cup (2500m).

“He was a nice horse,” Oulaghan said. “A typical Yamanin Vital, a good tough sort of horse, he was a good horse.

“He looked a star when he was here, I just thought he would have won one or two bigger races over there than what he has. He’s won a fair bit of money, but most of it has been place money.”

Oulaghan is now training a smaller race team of between 15 and 18 horses and is happy working that number.

Meanwhile, he could be in with a big summer with Shadows Cast as they prepare for a potential tilt at some big races including the Gr.1 Thorndon Mile (1600m).

“He’ll probably have a week off and we possibly might look at running him at a Palmerston North meeting, there is an open sprint there, or possibly something like the Thorndon Mile, but we are not 100 per cent sure as yet.” – NZ Racing Desk.