Unfortunately, Sydney CCI4*L didn’t quite go to plan: “Again, he was great in the dressage. He was perfect the whole weekend… I just lost my line slightly in the main arena on cross country and jumped on the other side of a flag.” The mishap resulted in Shenae having to re-present to the fence, costing them 20 jump penalties and inevitably time penalties. “I thought I’d keep going around the whole course, and he was amazing for the rest of it. I just didn’t quite give him the best ride and couldn’t get back on my line quick enough.
“We then rerouted to Melbourne CCI4*L and I was definitely not going to make that mistake again. He felt even better from doing Sydney and I had a much stronger horse at Melbourne,” continues Shenae, a sentiment that was demonstrated by their PB dressage score, clear and under time cross country round, and clear showjumping round with just 0.4 of a time penalty to their name.
“I did say on dressage day that I would love to get a PB. I then saw some scores coming through and I wasn’t sure I’d get it as I expected some people before me to get better marks than they did. So I thought it might not happen, but Bentley then did the test of his life and I’m glad he got rewarded for it.”
Their dressage score of 24.9 was the third best CCI4*L dressage score in the world to date this year, behind Laura Collett’s 24.3 at Millstreet and Izzy Taylor’s 24 at Bramham. Interestingly, Shenae and Bold Venture’s finishing score of 25.3 ultimately topped both those achieved by the British stars.
“I think he’s so strong in the dressage because he is so mentally relaxed and he doesn’t get any tension. He doesn’t go into atmosphere and get hot. He’s actually quite a naturally lazy horse, a bit of a Warmblood, so I can get in the test and I have to create energy rather than just try to contain it. He stays with you the whole time, so I can always ask for more and more each time as his training improves.
“Being a Thoroughbred, cross country is easy for him,” says Shenae, explaining that the course went smoothly and they had no trouble going under time. “On cross country, he doesn’t drag me out of the start box and around the course. I do have to kick him along, but at the same time he just feels like he could go for days.”
Heading into the show jumping on the final day with a rail in hand, Shenae kept her cool to claim victory. “I obviously had some nerves, that’s normal. You want to do well and you want to win. But I knew I was on one of the best jumpers in the field. I don’t think he’s had a rail all year; he’s very, very consistent in that phase. I just gave him the ride I always would, and he jumped his usual clean round. He was great.”
Bentley wasn’t Shenae’s only ride at Melbourne; she had SS Graphite in the CCI2*L. “He’s a horse I got off the track at Shane Rose’s last year, just under 12 months ago. I was looking for a horse to turn over and he’s a lovely grey horse… beautiful to look at. I thought he’d be a great turnover horse because everyone loves a grey, but I ended up falling in love with him and got him vetted for myself the other day. I’m really excited about this one, he’s a pretty special jumping horse.