People can be forgiven for confusing Shadows Cast for a pack horse given the amount of weight he has been carrying.
The Group 1-winning miler carried a mammoth 63kg to victory last start at Awapuni to win the Red Craze Bowl (1400m), while he is set to be a clear topweight in the Group 2 Coupland's Bakeries Mile (1600m) at Riccarton today.
While Shadows Cast has proven he can carry extreme weights, trainer Mark Oulaghan still has some concerns about the weight disparity, with the Per Incanto gelding set to carry 59kg, 4kg more than his nearest rival.
"It is going to be a bit of a test for him [today]," he said.
"He showed he can carry it, but the way it is weighted [today], you have got those horses down on 53 and 52 kilos.
"He is giving some of them six or seven kilos, and especially if the track is a bit off, it might not be ideal for him. But that's what handicap racing is and we have just got to take it as it is."
One of those horses on the 52kg minimum is Son Of Maher, who dead-heated with Shadows Cast in the 2017 Coupland's Mile.
Shadows Cast won the Red Craze Bowl as a lead-in to the race that year and Oulaghan is hoping this year's result is a good omen heading into today.
"The pattern has proved successful in the past, so we are hoping for success again," he said.
While Shadows Cast has had success in the race, he has also had some misfortune after suffering a heart fibrillation in the event last year.
However, he quickly recovered and went on to win his next two races, the Group 2 Manawatu Challenge Stakes (1400m) at Awapuni and Group 1 Thorndon Mile (1600m) at Trentham.
Oulaghan is happy with the way Shadows Cast has travelled to Riccarton from his Palmerston North base and is not too concerned about drawing the outside barrier in the 14 horse field.
"He went down on Sunday night and he worked there [yesterday morning] and did everything right, so we are happy enough with his condition," he said.
"We'll probably just let him jump away and see where he can find a position. If there is a lot of speed on, he will probably get back a little bit, but if there is not a lot of pace on down the back he will probably be a little bit handier, but I don't think we will be leading on him."
Oulaghan is looking forward to today and believes Shadows Cast is in peak condition ahead of his assignment.
"His runs at Hawke's Bay were good, he just didn't have a lot of luck in the way he was ridden," he said. "His run the other day was good, so I think he is on a par, if not better than the last two years."
- NZ Racing Desk