Who Shot Thebarman is a horse to keep a close eye on. Photo: Fairfax NZHe is a throwback to a traditional New Zealand stayer, like Melbourne Cup winner Kiwi, but Who Shot Thebarman’s trainer Mark Oulaghan is not sure if he is up to the class of a Sydney Cup in the 21st century.
There is a long history of Kiwi stayers coming off the farm and winning Australia’s biggest races, but can a five-year-old which was roaming a paddock a little over a year ago add a Sydney Cup to his Auckland Cup triumph at just his 10th start?
“I know he can stay,” Oulaghan said. “I know he has class, but I don’t know if the form is good enough against these horses. I have to say he is weighted up to his best.
“I was surprised when he got two kilos for winning the Auckland Cup. It is a long way from the $7000 maiden he was running in this time last year to be in a $1 million Sydney Cup, but he is just a dead-set stayer.”
Oulaghan only got his hands on Who Shot Thebarman as a four-year-old after he had been broken in by his owners, the O’Leary brothers. Before that he had been let run free in a paddock for a couple of years.
At first glance Oulaghan thought the son of Yamanin Vital would add to his jumping team, but that quickly changed.
“He had just been in a big paddock running around how he liked, which is a wonderful environment for a horse,” Oulaghan said. “I don’t know if it helped him but it certainly didn’t hurt him.
“I did think we might be looking at the fences with him, but once we trialled him it was obvious he was a flat horse.”
A very good one at that.
He has started favourite at all but one of his nine starts and recorded six wins and two seconds, one of which was at his home track in the Manawatu Cup three runs back.
“That was disappointing because it was at Awapuni, which is home for us, and he didn‘t have a lot of luck and just went down,” Oulaghan said.
“He has just kept stepping up and as the races have got further the better he has been.”
The on-pace stayer was back in the winner’s circle in comprehensive fashion in the Avondale Cup before being too strong for Celtic Prince in the Auckland Cup over two miles on March 3.
Oulaghan sent Who Shot Thebarman to Australia a few weeks ago but decided not to start in the Chairman’s Handicap last Saturday.
“I just thought the heavy track would be too much for him and was mindful that he would have to back up this week,” Oulaghan said.
“Thius is the race we came for and we will find out how good he is, and whether we will be back in the spring.”