Today’s big raceday featured a triumph for one of Trentham’s favourite sons as Shadows Cast took out the Gr. 1 Harcourts Thorndon Mile.
The under-rated gelding carries the colours of popular Wellington racing identity and former Trentham trainer Ron Cunningham, who was inundated with congratulations in the moments following the $200,000 feature.
“I’ve had some nice horses and won some nice races, but nothing beats a Group One,” he said. “We had a go at this race last year and didn’t get all the favours, but we’ve done it today. Trentham is close to my heart. I’ve been in the game a long time, but this means a bit.
“Mark (Oulaghan) has proved again what a champion trainer he is, and Jason (Waddell) gave him a great ride under the topweight. I really felt the horse deserved a Group One, and today was the day.”
Making it even more special was the chance to share it with Waddell, who rode Trentham trackwork for Cunningham at the very beginning of his career.
“Ron’s been a big part of the game here at Trentham,” the star jockey said. “He was training here when I was just a kid, and he gave me the chance to ride some horses for him. To repay him today on the ‘champagne turf’ is incredible.”
Shadows Cast has come a long way since he was passed in with a $10,000 reserve as a yearling at the South Island sale.
Even before today’s big win, he had earned more than $300,000 in prize-money. He was a dual Group Two winner, taking out the Coupland’s Bakeries Mile in November 2017 and the Manawatu Breeders’ Stakes last month.
A trial win at Cambridge last Tuesday had the six-year-old at fever pitch this afternoon, and he delivered a career-defining performance.
“The way he won his trial on Tuesday, we thought he was in the right order to run well.”
Understated Oulaghan agreed, although he was concerned by a betting drift after Shadows Cast drew wide in gate 16.
“His last run was probably the best of his career so far,” the Awapuni horseman said. “He was a bit erratic early on in his career, which cost him in some good races, but with time he’s really matured.
“He was an $8 chance earlier in the week, but drifted out to $14 or $15 after the draw and he started at $21 today. They really didn’t seem to like his chances.”
Over to Waddell, who rode the perfect race from the tricky barrier. He went forward and across, and after 200 metres he was tracking the front-running The Mitigator.
When The Mitigator began to fade in the straight, Shadows Cast surged forward. He took command, then withstood the late charge of Wyndspelle to score by a neck.
“The way he was travelling at the 600, I knew he was going to be hard to beat,” Waddell said.
Shadows Cast is now the winner of 10 of his 33 starts and more than $420,000 in prize-money. Oulaghan identified the Gr. 1 Haunui Farm WFA Classic at Otaki on February 23.
Watch This Space, who ran second to Stolen Dance in this race last year, collected another Thorndon Mile placing with a third today. Dark Princess was fourth, with the favourite More Wonder running on strongly into fifth after blundering at the start.
Group One winner Authentic Paddy finished a clear last, with rider Robert Hannam looking after him over the closing stages.
Today’s win completed a Group One double this month for Little Avondale Stud stallion Per Incanto, who also sired the Sistema Railway winner Santa Monica.
A very happy Jason Waddell, in his first ride aboard Shadows Cast ($21.40), wins the Group 1 Harcourts Thorndon Mile aboard the Mark Oulaghan-trained six year-old, who proved to be too good for the fast-finishing Wyndspelle and roughie Watch This Space@SKYNZ #NZRacing pic.twitter.com/022RLqrWpB
— TAB Racing (@TAB_Racing) January 19, 2019