Liz Halliday-Sharp marked her British Eventing comeback with a commanding victory and double podium last weekend (May 22-24) at Rockingham Castle International where two horses competing at very different levels were in action.
Liz Halliday-Sharp marked her British Eventing comeback with a commanding victory and double podium on May 22-24 at Rockingham Castle International where two horses competing at very different levels were in action.
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It was the UK-based Californian’s first domestic outing since returning from her winter base in Ocala, Florida, where a number of Chailey Stud’s residents had benefitted from warmer weather training and competition.
And having racked up plenty of success Stateside over the past five months, it didn’t take Liz and Blackie (Fernhill By Night) long to get back to winning ways. Following a debut appearance together at the CCI4* Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event in April, the pair were understandably amongst the favourites in their Open Intermediate section, and so it proved.
Indeed, they were never headed after accumulating just 22.3 points for a highly accomplished Dressage test and would later finish on that same score thanks to going double clear in Show Jumping and Cross Country.
After finishing with the best mark across all five Intermediate sections, Liz is now feeling confident ahead of her and Blackie’s appearance at Houghton International’s CICO3* FEI Nations Cup event this weekend (May 29/30).
“After a tough time in very wet conditions at Rolex I just wanted to give Blackie an easier, confidence-inspiring round on good ground, and the course at Rockingham was perfect for that,” she confirmed.
“He found it all quite easy and I wasn't pushing for time, but it’s noticeable how much naturally faster he is between fences after competing regularly at Advanced level in the USA throughout the winter. He’s always responded best when being ridden positively, but we certainly weren't flat-out, so it's nice that he still found the time easy to make.
“It was a good pre-run for Houghton where I’ll be the sole US Team representative. I’m sure it’ll be a tough competition, but hopefully we can come home with a good result; I feel confident that if we put all the pieces together we can do just that.”
While Blackie has demonstrated his pedigree countless times before, stablemate Ozzy (Oskar X) remains comparatively new to both the sport and Liz, who had spent just two weeks working with the six-year-old prior to Rockingham.
Not that it showed at his first British event last weekend when the duo secured second place in their BE100 section. Lying joint-fourth after a tidy Dressage performance, clear Cross Country and Show Jumping rounds helped them pick up two positions and finish on their original score of 28.5, just 0.2 marks shy of victory.
“I was a little bit frustrated to miss out on winning by such a small margin, especially as I thought his Dressage test was better than the mark, but I can’t be too disappointed after spending so little time with him,” continued Liz.
“He’s clearly got bags of potential and has a lovely temperament, too. He really tried hard in every phase and I'm thrilled with him! We’ll continue at BE100 for the next month or so before hopefully upgrading to Novice in July if he’s ready.”
Ozzy’s eventing education continues at Borde Hill this Sunday (May 31) just a day after Halliday-Sharp returns from FEI Nations Cup duty at Houghton.
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