When the ride times were changed at The Fork Horse Trials in Norwood, N.C., Liz Halliday-Sharp ended up with only five minutes of warm-up for her and Deborah Halliday’s 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse Gelding, Fernhill by Night. It turned out those five minutes were all she needed, as she was able to secure the overnight lead with a score of 41.8 – besting 41 other horse and riders.
“I walked up about five minutes before my test, which turns out suits Blackie okay,” said Halliday-Sharp. “He is super duper lazy, so he was all ‘woo-hoo’ in the ring, and so I was thinking maybe I should do this more often. I just picked up a canter, did a change each way and went in the ring.”
The abbreviated warm-up angered Halliday-Sharp at first especially because they didn’t announce the time changes at all. “It was what it was, and now I am not angry anymore. I was really pleased with his trot work and his changes were way better than at Carolina [International]. He is a good boy.”
While this is Fernhill by Night’s first foray to The Fork, second-placed Cambalda has competed at the event five times previously including winning the CIC3* in 2011, finishing second in 2013, and third in 2014.
The 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse, owned by Nina Gardner and ridden by Jennie Brannigan earned a 42.8 giving Fernhill by Night no rails in hand for tomorrow’s show jumping.
“I have had this horse for a long time, and it is funny to think about how many years you have had him at an event, “ said Brannigan. “It’s crazy. I love this event; I always seem to have pretty good results here.”
“He is not a big mover, but he has a great canter and I have a great partnership with him. It’s nice to know your horse and know what you have got. He is probably not going to ever score in the 30s, but he puts in an accurate test and is consistent. I have been galloping him a ton for Rolex, so I haven’t done that much flat work with him besides my lessons with Jacquie [Brooks].”
Buck Davidson showed his consistency today, scoring a 44 on both The Apprentice (44.3) and Ballynoecastle RM (44.7) to claim the third and fourth spots. Halliday-Sharp rounded out the top five with HHS Cooley.
In addition to the CIC3*, both Advanced Divisions A and B are serving as qualifiers for the Adequan USEA Gold Cup Final. Lauren Kieffer is on a winning streak this year and continued with a relaxed and accurate test on Team Rebecca LLC’s Veronica earning a 22.0. The 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood Mare leads Phillip Dutton and Mighty Nice by only 1.1 points while Courtney Cooper and Who’s A Star are hot on their heels with a 23.8. The top seven horses in the division are all using The Fork as a final prep before Rolex Kentucky later this month.
Elinor MacPhail is leading the Advanced B division aboard Sally Crane’s 10-year-old Holsteiner Gelding, RF Eloquence, on a score of 27.1 while her other RF horse, RF Panamera, a 9-year-old Hanoverian mare is winning the CIC* with a 39.5.
Lauren Kieffer and Courtney and Kylie Ramsay’s Czechmate earned a 27.8 for second in the Advanced B while Boyd Martin and Pancho Villa slotted into third with a 28.7.
The hotly contested CIC2* saw four riders break into the 30s with new mom, Jessica Phoenix earning two of those with Don Good’s 13-year-old Westphalian Gelding, Pavarotti, scoring a 35 for first and Kirk Hoppner’s 14-year-old Trakhener gelding, Patras VR a 38.4 for fourth.
Phoenix’s daughter was born a little over two months ago, but she hasn’t let her second child slow her down. “The last time I rode was on a Thursday, then we flew home [to Canada] on Sunday night, and I had the baby on Friday,” said Phoenix. “I was back riding in two weeks. At Poplar Place I couldn’t sit trot, but this weekend I felt like I could sit the trot again.”
“He gets a little bit of tension in his trot work, but luckily I think it looks better than it feels. I think his canter work was solid.”
Sandwiched in between Phoenix were two riders developing partnerships with horses they inherited from their students. Lillian Heard recently took over the ride on Arundel, a 15-year-old Canadian Sport Horse Gelding, when owner Abbie Golden started law school. The pair quickly formed a bond and scored a 37.5 for second while Tamra Smith and Alex Ahearn’s 9-year-old German Sport Horse, Mai Baum, earned an even 38 for third place.
Show Jumping kicks off tomorrow at 8:00 AM with the CIC* jumping first followed by the Advanced at 9:37, the CIC3* at 11:44 and the CIC2* at 1:54.
About the Adequan USEA Gold Cup and PRO Tour Series
Qualifying for the 2015 Adequan USEA Gold Cup began last fall with the Plantation Field CIC3* (PA) and the Woodside CIC3* (CA) and features 11 qualifying competitions throughout the United States at the Advanced Horse Trials and CIC3* levels. The final will take place at the Nutrena USEA American Eventing Championships September 2015 in Tyler, Texas. Riders who complete a qualifier earn the chance to vie for $40,000 in prize money in the Adequan Advanced Division and the title of Adequan USEA Gold Cup Champion.
The 2015 Adequan USEA Gold Cup Series is made possible through the support of its many loyal sponsors: Adequan, Standlee Forage, Nunn Finer, Nutrena, Broadstone Equine Insurance Agency, Point Two, Dubarry, and FITS.
The PRO Tour Series consists of 13 premier destination events in the United States and Canada, featuring the best riders and most entertainment. Riders and Horses are awarded points on the PRO Tour Rider Leader Board and PRO Tour Horse Leader Board.
The Professional Riders Organization would like to thank the following sponsors for their support of the 2015 PRO Tour Series: KER Optimum Time, Tex Sutton, Triple Crown Nutrition, SSG Riding Gloves, and Midadlantic Ltd.