Off the Track thoroughbred Shanghai Joe and Shane Rose claim CCI3* honours as retired racehorses reign supreme at the Melbourne International Horse Trials

Olympic silver medallist Shane Rose believes the sky is the limit for thoroughbred gelding Shanghai Joe after the retired racehorse claimed top honours in the CCI3* class at the Melbourne International Horse Trials.

Occupying second position following the dressage and cross country phases of the coveted event held at Werribee Park over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend, Rose put in a faultless show jumping performance on the seven-year-old to score a narrow win over Sonja Johnson and her retired racehorse, Parkiarrup Illicit Liaison.

Rose said Shanghai Joe performed admirably during all phases of the competition and pointed to his speed and athleticism, two defining traits of the breed, during Sunday’s cross country round as the hallmark of his win.

“I’m very happy with how the horse went because he’s such a young horse to be competing in this field let alone to be at the top of the pile at the end of the weekend,” Rose said.

“He felt great, he’s quite a careful horse and he pulled up great after the cross country.

“He had to run pretty fast (during cross country) because I got a little bit lost and made a bit of an error in my line and wasted 10 or 15 seconds so he showed his racing speed to make up that time.”

Bred by Rose, who is in involved in thoroughbred education and pre-training in addition to his illustrious equestrian endeavours, Shanghai Joe was given a brief racing education in Sydney.

The son of Another Warrior had three official trials while in the care of Warwick Farm trainer Marc Conners but, after beating only one horse home, was retired and retrained for an elite eventing career.

An unabashed fan of the breed, Rose believes that many of Australia’s top racehorses would make outstanding eventers if they were trained and given the chance to compete in dressage, cross country and show jumping instead of racing.

“If we had the opportunity as competition riders to work with the best thoroughbreds, we would be unbeatable,” Rose said.

“They are an amazing animal and unfortunately for us, the best of them run fast.

“If you had horses like Black Caviar or Makybe Diva given the opportunity to come out as eventers early in their career they’d probably have gold medals around their neck.

“A lot of those horses go on to be good racehorses and then have a breeding career so really we only get the slower ones which are still great athletes.

“He (Shanghai Joe) is testament to that because he beat one horse home in a trial.”

Rose is confident the seven-year-old has more improvement to come and, with another two seasons of competition under his belt, can be a contender for Australia at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil.

“Limitations are not really there for him at the moment,” Rose said.

“He’s got three great phases, he’s got a great attitude and he seems to be really sound because he hasn’t had to do a lot of racing and doesn’t have a lot of miles in his legs.

“Realistically, the peak age for a competition horse in eventing is 12 or 13 so he’s got another five years of improvement so he can hopefully go as far as I want.

“I’m certainly looking at having him ready for Rio in a couple of years and then there’s every possibility he could stay around for up to 10 years.”

Runner-up Parkiarrup Illicit Liaison, who raced in Western Australia as Bullionaire, could also be headed overseas with Johnson hopeful the performance is enough to warrant selection at this year’s World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France.

After taking out the CCI1* on Paihia Wilhelm, popular event rider Will Enzinger teamed with former Lindsay Park gelding Wenlock Aquifer (Aquifer) to finish runner-up in the CCI2* and collect the ‘Best Performed Off the Track Thoroughbred’ award.

A nine-year-old son of Alannan, Aquifer had four starts in South Australia for Half of Fame trainer David Hayes, his best performance coming in the form of a debut win at Victoria Park in 2006.

Nina Clarke was thrilled with the performance of her mount LP Boudin, a former VRC St Leger runner-up who was raced by Fran Houlahan and Brian Johnston as Mr Bigalow, who was awarded ‘Best Performed Off the Track Thoroughbred’ in the CCI1*.

The full results from all classes at the Melbourne International Horse Trials are available here.

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