Albury's Shanae Bohr-Howell has partnered with a horse close to her heart to finish second in a highly contested jumping class at the inaugural Equimillion event.
Exclusively for retired Thoroughbred racehorses, Equimillion offers prizemoney amounting to $1 million across four disciplines - dressage, jumping, eventing and show horses, with $30,000 prizemoney on offer in each class.
The event was held at Sydney International Equestrian Centre (SIEC) from September 30 to October 2.
Ms Bohr-Howell and Daunie's Surprise (Paddy) placed second in the amateur one-metre jumping class.
"The minute the press release announced the Equimillion, I set it in my sites," Ms Bohr-Howell said.
"This year, I have been completing my 25 weeks of physiotherapy placement, and I actually took Paddy to Sydney with me for five weeks while I was there to continue his preparation, and he is also with me while I'm in Canberra at the moment for a 10-week placement."
Leading up to Equimillion, Ms Bohr-Howell worked at Thoroughbred Park, Canberra, riding racehorses for Keith Dryden from 4am-7.30am before heading to her hospital placement from 8.30am-5pm.
After which, she would tend to Paddy every afternoon to feed or train him.
"I also spent most weekends travelling for training days or showjumping competitions. It's been pretty crazy, but I made it work," Ms Bohr-Howell said.
It was certainly a family affair at SIEC on competition day, where Ms Bohr-Howell and Paddy were surrounded by the people who were instrumental in his racing career and life after the racetrack.
"It is probably my favourite story to tell," Ms Bohr-Howell said.
"My Pop, Trevor Bohr, a previous racehorse trainer, went to the Inglis sales in 2017 under strict instructions from my Nan, Daune, not to buy a yearling or take his chequebook. My pop, instead, tore a single cheque from his chequebook and bought a stunning yearling colt sired by Dawn Approach.
"You could say when this new yearling arrived back at our stables, my nan Daune was quite surprised. Hence, he was named after his sire and my nan - Daunie's Surprise."
Paddy was trained by Ms Bohr-Howell's mother, Jodie Bohr, at Albury and was ridden by her sister, Hollee.
"He ended up being one of our slowest racehorses, but as I already had a soft spot for him, I decided to retrain him," Ms Bohr-Howell said.
"With the help of my Mum's partner and my long-term coach Ross Spalding (also previously a trainer at Albury and former high-level eventer) and a lot of patience on my part, as Paddy is quite the cheeky boy, we managed to find a super scopey horse under all the cheek and have had a lot of fun in the showjumping ring so far.
"Paddy is honestly my once-in-a-lifetime horse, and I can't wait to see where we go in the showjumping ring with him.
"He's only eight, so we have a lot of time to have fun together."
Ms Bohr-Howell, who grew up in the racing industry, said she had been riding "since I could breathe".
She has ridden trackwork since she was 14 (now 26) and has been showjumping and eventing most of her life.
Hailing from a racing background, Ms Bohr-Howell said it was in her blood to love Thoroughbreds.
"I guess it brings two passions together, getting to retrain these incredibly versatile and intelligent animals to do whatever discipline suits them best post-racing," she said.
"Most of my retrained Thoroughbreds have come from my Mum's stables or Donna Scott, Hazel Park, Albury, where I have ridden the horses, so that makes it extra special."
Ms Bohr-Howell was full of confidence heading into the competition and was delighted to place second against a formidable competitor in Elevator, ridden by Tinky Konecny.
"I prepped my horse to the best of my ability; he's an incredibly clean jumper, and I went into Equimillion thinking we would definitely win or place in our class," she said.
"I was ecstatic to have placed second.
"It was the most fantastic weekend, with astonishing facilities and a really well-run event.
Ms Bohr-Howell said she definitely won't miss next year's Equimillion competition and might even take along a bigger team of horses.
I think it's an amazing concept, and having the chance to put retired Thoroughbreds in the limelight is a fantastic opportunity to display how versatile and talented the breed is," she said.
"I can't wait to be back next year."
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