Shadow Runner (Juéyǐng 絕影), or Shadow Runner Horse (Juéyǐngmǎ 絕影馬) was Cao Cao's horse during his flight from Wan city following a surpise attack by Zhang Xiu 張繡.


In 197 AD Cao Cao led his army to attack Jing province. On the way Cao Cao arrived at Wan city, at that time controlled by Zhang Xiu. Zhang Xiu's strategist Jia Xu 賈詡 suggested to his lord that they should surrender to Cao Cao temporary, and while doing so construct a plan to drive him out.

When Cao Cao took the widow of Zhang Xiu's former master Zhang Ji as a concubine, Zhang Xiu was humiliated and angry. Cao Cao wished to kill him but Zhang Xiu found out and instead attacked Cao Cao, much to the surprise of the latter who quickly sought the escape.

The horse that we are told Cao Cao was riding at that moment was the Shadow Runner. During the escape, however, both Cao Cao and Shadow Runner were hit by arrows. Cao Cao was hit in the right arm. Shadow Runner was hit in the cheek and foot. Cao Cao's son Cao Ang 曹昂 was wounded an unable to ride so he led his horse to Cao Cao, who then escaped.[1]

See alsoEdit


  • In the card game Legends of the Three Kingdoms Shadow Runner is written as 絶影. The left hanzi differs very slightly from the hanzi used in Records of the Three Kingdoms (絕), but according to they are both correct and almost identical in meaning.[2]

Fact vs. FictionEdit

  • In Romance of the Three Kingdoms chapter 16, it is said the horse Cao Cao was riding did not stop running even after being hit by several arrows. Historically, as read above, the horse was hit in the foot and apparantly was unable to continue, or slowed down because of its wound. Thus, Cao Cao took Cao Ang's horse.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Chen Shou. "Book of Wei 1," Records of the Three Kingdoms.
  2., page for .


  • Chen Shou 陳壽 (233–297). Sanguo zhi 三國志 "Records of the Three Kingdoms", with official commentary compiled by Pei Songzhi 裴松之 (372-451).