Meet Arrowfielders Michelle Nichols & Nigel Bentley

Arrowfield’s Stud Secretary Michelle Nichols has been with us for almost 20 years and is a mainstay of our business and community. Her special gift is liaising with owners, other farms and our breeding staff every Spring to fulfil more than a thousand bookings to the Arrowfield stallions.
Michelle is the 2017 winner of the Hunter Valley Thoroughbred Breeders Association Employee of the Year (Administration) award.

All-time favourite Arrowfield horse, and why. 
Redoute’s Choice, because he’s such a good coverer and very fertile which has made doing the stallion bookings easy, especially in his busiest years. He always brings a sense of calmness.

Most exciting Arrowfield racing moment.
Miss Finland winning the 2006 Golden Slipper.

Your saddest day at Arrowfield.
When some of my fantastic workmates like Sam Fairgray and Melanie Caban left us, but I’m grateful to see them go on to further their ambitions and dreams.

Favourite place on the farm, and why.
It’s the bridge at the Pages River below Cath’s Barn, it’s always so peaceful and forever changing.

Favourite time of the year at work.
Funnily enough, it’s early September when the stallions start covering mares, everyone is enthusiastic and excited.

What do you most enjoy about your work?
Meeting and talking to people.

Most satisfying personal achievement.
That my children Heath and Abbey have grown up to be great people and have excelled in their chosen fields.

Particular people who have helped you during your career, and how.
Many fantastic people I have worked with over the years, too many to mention!

How would you describe Arrowfield?
Arrowfield is a constantly changing, challenging but enjoyable place to be.


Nigel Bentley joined Arrowfield in 2007, initially working at the Training Centre before taking on the role of Broodmare Farm Manager in 2014. Nigel’s outstanding horsemanship, dedication and approachability make him a valuable member of the farm management team, with responsibility for around 180 broodmares & young horses and up to eight staff.
Nigel was a Finalist for the 2017 Hunter Valley Breeders Association Employee of the Year (Horsemanship) award.

All-time favourite Arrowfield horses, and why.
Beneteau and Scissor Kick, I had the privilege of working with these two amazing colts while they were in training. They both had wonderful natures and personalities.

Most exciting Arrowfield racing moment.
When Alverta, Arrowfield-born, -raised and –raced, won the 2010 Coolmore Classic. [Alverta, now at stud at Arrowfield, was Paul Messara’s first Group 1 winner as a trainer.]

Your saddest day at Arrowfield.
The day Battlefield broke down. [Battlefield was a charismatic and gifted sprinter who won five of his 7 starts from the Paul Messara stable, but suffered serious injuries during a trial and was subsequently euthanased.]

Favourite place on the farm, and why.
Bellerive of course, it’s so quiet and secluded. [Bellerive is the name of Arrowfield’s Broodmare Farm, adjacent to the main Stud property.]

Favourite time of the year at work.
When the first foals start to hit the ground.

What do you most enjoy about your work?

Working with the horses and getting to know their different personalities and quirks.


Most satisfying personal achievement

Visiting China for three months, breaking in 30 horses there and teaching students how to do it.

Particular people who have helped you during your career, and how.
I’ve worked with a lot of great people along the way, too many to list, but my main mentor would have to be my father Kel Bentley. He was a very successful horse breaker and trainer, and he taught me most of what I know.

How would you describe Arrowfield?
A beautiful stud and a wonderful place to work.

Michelle Nichols honoured with HTBA award

The team at Arrowfield has celebrated many successes this season, but the announcement of Stud Secretary Michelle Nichols as the 2017 Hunter Valley Breeders Association Employee of the Year (Administration) is a particularly special highlight. 

Michelle was honoured at the HTBA’s 26th annual Awards Dinner on Wednesday evening, one of many events scheduled during the Scone & Upper Hunter Horse Festival, which concludes with the Darley Scone Cup Carnival on Friday and Saturday.

Michelle’s high level of professional performance and dedication to her work at Arrowfield during a period of great change and progress has been, and continues to be very valuable.

Michelle joined Arrowfield in 1998 and her role as Stud Secretary gives her responsibility for all administrative operations at the farm, notably the management of more than a thousand stallion bookings during the breeding season. The respect and gratitude that farm managers, stud administrators and broodmare owners express for Michelle’s work is the best testament to her effectiveness in this vital and challenging role.

She is also held in very high regard by her Arrowfield colleagues who can always rely on her efficiency and personal support.

Arrowfield Chairman John Messara says, “Michelle is one of the mainstays of Arrowfield, and her integrity, accuracy and diligence are all impeccable. Just as her home is the first building most visitors see at Arrowfield, so Michelle is the first port of call for our staff and clients, and she never fails to provide the advice, information and assistance they need.”

A second Arrowfielder, Broodmare Farm Manager Nigel Bentley, was a finalist for the Employee of the Year (Horsemanship) Award, won by Daniel Krzanic of Coolmore Australia.

Paul Messara collected two other awards during the evening: the HTBA Champion Sire Award, won by Snitzel, and the HTBA Champion 2YO Colt Award, won by Group 1 winner Invader (Snitzel-Flame of Sydney), and accepted on behalf of the colt’s breeder Michael Pitt. Invader was bred and raised at Arrowfield and sold through the Arrowfield draft on behalf of Mr Pitt. Those awards were sponsored respectively by William Inglis & Sons and International Animal Health Products.

Beneteau & Wandjina win HTBA awards

Arrowfield Stud was delighted to accept two trophies at the 2015 Hunter Valley Thoroughbred Breeders Association’s Annual Awards Dinner, held at Scone Racecourse on Wednesday evening.

The Stud’s young home-bred sire Beneteau was named Champion First Season Sire, inevitably a bittersweet achievement given that he died in January 2013, after only two seasons at stud. The award was sponsored by Kentucky Equine Research & Barastoc.

Beneteau (Redoute’s Choice-Slice of Paradise by Encosta de Lago), a juvenile Group 3 winner and third in the Blue Diamond S. G1, has produced seven individual winners from his first crop including Prompt Return (VRC Maribyrnong P. G3), Lady Jivago  (ATC Inglis 2YO Classic (R) LR), Voilier (City winner & 2nd, ATC Silver Slipper S. G2), impressive Sydney winner Aegean Sea and the stakes-placed It’s Vegas Baby.

Beneteau took the lead on the 2014/15 Australian First Season Sires’ list last November and remains on top with prizemoney of $666,235. The rise and rise of Arrowfield’s other two sons of Redoute’s Choice, Snitzel and Not A Single Doubt, only enlarges the gap Beneteau’s early death has left in the ranks of Australia’s young stallions.

Another Arrowfield-bred colt, Wandjina (Snitzel-La Bamba by Last Tycoon) was named Champion 3YO Colt on the strength of his VRC Australian Guineas G1 victory and Group 1 placings in the ATC All Aged S. G1 and MRC Caulfield Guineas G1. The award was sponsored by Equilaw.

Purchased by James Harron for $1 million at the 2013 Inglis Easter Sale, and trained by Gai Waterhouse for Edmund & Belinda Bateman, Wandjina now has Royal Ascot in his sights before retiring to stud at Newgate Farm this coming Spring.

Wandjina is one of four Arrowfield-bred Group 1 winners this season, along with Sweet Idea (ATC The Galaxy H. G1), Hot Snitzel (BRC BTC Cup G1), both by Snitzel, and Majmu (Turffontein Empress Club S. G1), by Redoute’s Choice. As Arrowfield celebrates its 30th year of operation, they have taken the total of Group 1 winners bred by the Stud to forty.

An additional 14 Group 1 winners, including Lankan Rupee and Miracles of Life, have been raised and/or sold by Arrowfield during those three decades.