After two days of competition at the Tryon Spring International Three-Day Event, all short-format divisions (CCI4*-S, CCI3*-S, and CCI1*-S) have concluded the dressage and show jumping phases of competition at Tryon International Equestrian Center & Resort (TIEC). Long format divisions, including the CCI3*-L and CCI4*-L, the first of two CCI4*-L dates hosted in the United States this year – both at TIEC – wrapped up the dressage phase on Friday evening ahead of cross-country competition for all divisions on Saturday, May 14.
In the highlight division, with 30 entries dancing down centerline at the CCI4*-L level, the lead remains firmly in the hands of Doug Payne and Starr Witness (Chello III VDL x Veneur), the 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare owned in partnership with Laurie H. McRee and Catherine Winter, who produced a score of 24.9. Boyd Martin and Fedarman B (Eurocommerce Washington x Fedor), the 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by the Annie Goodwin Syndicate, currently sit in reserve with a score of 29.0. Just behind in third, Colleen Loach guided Vermont (Van Helsing x Heraldik XX), the 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Peter Barry, to a score of 29.3.
“It’s super exciting,” Payne said of his sandbox result. “I think this spring she’s come out stronger and better, but in the last six weeks or so, she’s starting to get more and more consistent and more and more reliable to put in a really good competitive test. She was able to do that again today, which was excellent. And clearly, I’m looking forward to the rest of it.”
As the only CCI4*-L venue in the country for 2022, Captain Mark Phillips has built his cross-country courses with that in mind. Additionally, this event serves as a qualifier for the upcoming World Championships in Pratoni, Italy. For Payne, who is a frequent competitor at the venue and considers it home base, it’s the strongest course he’s ever tackled at TIEC, he revealed.
“I think there’s a lot to do. I think cross-country is the strongest course I’ve seen while competing here. I think it’s pretty difficult, but [Starr Witness is] certainly prepared and we’re going to go ahead and attack it!”
For the reigning Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event USEF CCI5*-L Eventing National Champion, “there’s no better venue in the country to prepare horses for international competition than here,” Payne said of the opportunity to prepare for events like the Eventing World Championships. “It’s essentially the biggest stage these guys are able to see in any sort of preparatory competition. And for that reason we actually had this whole group of horses here last week, jumping, just to get a leg up on it, and we’re lucky to have it as a venue.”
Liz Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Moonshine (Cobra x Kings Master) have held their leading score of 27.2 through two phases of competition after Friday’s Show Jumping test in the International Stadium. Jacob Fletcher flew to second aboard Fabian (Up to Date x Beaujolais), the 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding of Fletcher Farms, carrying forward a score of 32.1, while third place currently belongs to Boyd Martin and the 13-year-old Holsteiner mare Contessa (Contender x Esteban) owned by Club Contessa, with a score of 33.0. Cross-country competition will conclude the division on Saturday, May 14 on the White Oak cross-country course.
Halliday-Sharp and the 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by The Monster Partnership put in a dressage test that Halliday-Sharp felt was better than their recent outing at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, she acknowledged. “I actually thought Cooley Moonshine did a much better test than he did in Kentucky. I sort of came away from Kentucky and worked on a few things, and I think those were actually a lot better today.”
With cross-country competition taking place Saturday, Halliday-Sharp went on from the sandbox to the show jumping ring with several horses throughout the day, where Cooley Moonshine continued to shine. “And then, he jumped fantastically. I mean, he’s a live wire and a little bit edgy to ride, but I know him very well, and I’ve had him since he was a five-year-old. He jumped his guts out in there, and he was fantastic.
“I’d like to say thank you to all my owners for being here,” Halliday-Sharp concluded, “because I’ve got some of the Calmaria Partnership here as well. It’s just been really fun to have a bunch of them here, enjoying it all!”
Lynn Symansky and the 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding Global Cassero 3 (Conteur x Windhauch), owned by The Jerry Syndicate, dazzled in the sandbox to produce a score of 27.2 for the lead in the CCI3*-L division. Lucienne Bellissimo and Dyri (Diarado x King Milford XX), the 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding owned by Horse Scout Eventing, sit in second at the moment on a dressage score of 28.7, while Leslie Lamb rode her own 10-year-old Thoroughbred gelding Banjo (Bailero x Crafty Friend) to a score of 28.8 for third place ahead of cross-country competition.
Holding the top two spots in the CCI3*-S Division with just one more test ahead of her, Liz Halliday-Sharp currently owns the top spot with Shanroe Cooley after maintaining their Dressage score of 25.3. She and the Ocala Horse Properties owned 7-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding by Dallas VDL are dominating the largest division of the weekend after placing second in the same division just a few weeks ago, during The Fork at TIEC.
“Shanroe Cooley jumped incredibly; I was totally thrilled with him because he is a green horse. He’s only seven this year. And he was pretty green here when I came for The Fork, and today, he jumped a really professional round. I was thrilled with that. He’s actually quite a tricky horse to ride because he’s big, and he’s green, and he’s very, very scopey, and very careful, so that he can kind of run himself into trouble a little bit. He was very, very special today, and I’m totally thrilled.”
Halliday-Sharp also produced a double-clear show jumping round with her own Cooley HHS Calmaria, the 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare by Cyrano 145 to sit in second with a two-round total of 27.6 points. In third on a score of 29.1 is Boyd Martin and Monbeg Medlar (Emperor Augustus x Star Robe), the 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by Yankee Creek Ranch LLC.
Halliday-Sharp had Phillip Dutton take over the ride for her special and “spicy” mare, Cooley HHS Calmaria, at the Fork at TIEC, so this weekend is the first full run the duo will be tackling together on the season. “She hasn’t jumped a course at a show since Phillip rode her last, and she’s a very sensitive horse. I think she’s been a bit [flustered] – not that he did anything wrong, and I was very grateful for the ride! – but she’s just very quirky, and there has been a lot of change for her lately. Of course, she jumped great today, but she was just a bit wild and spooky.”
With two phases of competition running on Friday for numerous divisions, Halliday-Sharp had yet to fully survey her cross-country courses after stepping off her last ride of the day.
“I’ve been so crazy busy with so many horses to ride. I was focusing on the four-long course yesterday. I’m about to go to walk the three-star short course, but from what I’ve seen it looks quite tough,” she noted. “I think the first question is a very real question. I think it’s strong. I think the four-star course, too, is very legitimate at the level. They are tough, challenging, well designed tracks, and I think Mark’s done a really great job. Everything looks fair, but challenging, which is good.”
After the dressage and show jumping tests, Sinead Maynard controls the CCI1*-S division with I-Quid J (Quidaro x Come On), the 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Sharon White, carrying forward an unblemished dressage score of 27.3. Boyd Martin and Barney Rubble (Cador x Glockenklang), the 8-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Barney Rubble Syndicate LLC, produced a double-clear stadium round to maintain reserve on a score of 27.8, while third place went to Ashton Benefiel aboard Kingston Van Meerzicht (Harley VDL x Indoctro), her own 7-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding , after their clear round and 0.4 time penalties resulted in a total score of 31.7.
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