Lexington, Ky.—September 1—Liz Halliday had one rail and 1.2 time penalties in hand with Miks Master C when she headed into the Rolex Stadium tonight for show jumping in the $60,000 Adequan USEA Advanced Final at the USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds.
After leading the competition from the start, she thought she was in the clear as she headed to the last fence, but a late rail and exceeding the time allowed over Bobby Murphy’s course made Halliday, and the large crowd, groan. It took a few seconds, but announcer Brian O’Connor did the math and confirmed that Halliday only added .8 time penalties to her score to keep her overnight lead ahead of Phillip Dutton and Z, who’d put the pressure on with one of four double clear rounds.
“I am totally thrilled—I’m obviously going to have anxiety for the next 10 years after that,” she said with a laugh. “I knew I was right on the edge, and when they announced my score, I had a moment where I was like, ‘Maybe I did the math wrong.’ I was freaking out a little bit, like, ‘That was cutting it too fine, Halliday.’ He just jumped phenomenally the whole weekend. I think that light’s a little funny in there, and he just saw a glare in the water tray as he took off, and I was shocked because he was jumping so well."
“Mikki,” an 11-year-old U.S.-bred Swedish Warmblood (Mighty Magic x Qui Luma CBF) who’s owned by Ocala Horse Properties LLC and Deborah Palmer, came to Halliday as a confirmed Advanced horse under Maya Black, and Halliday's spent the last year and a half getting to know him and picking up big results. They were third in the gelding’s five-star debut at Land Rover Kentucky this spring, then helped the U.S. team to a silver medal at the Aachen CCIO4*-S (Germany) this summer. Nex, they’ll head to the Pan American Games in Chile in October.
“He’s just a really wonderful horse,” said Halliday, Lexington, Kentucky. “He loves the sport, he’s very generous, he tries very hard, and he’s very, very talented. I just feel really lucky to ride him. I planned to come here to be competitive with him and run him fairly fast with the view of running him quieter at the final trial before the Pan Ams and just put all the pieces back together so that he doesn't run off! My plan was to try and be pretty competitive this weekend and give him a good run for fitness as much as anything. And obviously, I wanted to come here and win, so it's always nice when that works out.”
Twenty-six pairs started over Murphy’s course tonight and four were double clear, including Dutton on both Z and Azure, who finished third.
“I thought it was a really good track, actually,” said Halliday. “The time was influential. It wasn't huge, but it was enough. There's always the atmosphere factor here. I think the light was quite influential late on. It definitely influenced my horse to the last.”
Dutton agreed, adding that he brought both his horses to the AEC for their first prep runs before their big fall events. “Each horse is different,” he said of his plan over tonight’s course. “You’ve got to ride them a certain way to get the best out of them. Z's better off being a little bit relaxed and in a bit of an open canter, not getting too much up and down. I didn't think [the course] walked that strong, actually. But like Liz said, I think that light and a few other factors play a part, and the rails, I believe were spread pretty evenly around, so that's a good sign of a well-built course.”
Z, a 15-year-old Zangersheide gelding (Asca Z x Bellabouche) owned by Evie Dutton, Ann Jones, Suzanne Lacy, Caroline Moran, Thomas Tierney, and Dave and Patricia Vos, is heading to the Pau CCI5*-L in France in October.
“I sort of had in mind to try to be competitive without overdoing it,” he said of his weekend. “It's a great experience for me and the horses to get in this arena in the show jumping, and obviously on the cross-country because the footing’s usually pretty good. It's a good training ground, and the money's really helpful. We've tried to support any of the events that are putting out money; that just helps everybody along.”
“Z’s just a great horse to have and be a friend with,” he continued. “He’s in it for all the right reasons; he loves to compete, he loves it all. He gets pretty wound up about it. But you know, that's him enjoying it, not because of any other reason. I still think it's such a great sport that a horse at his age, he just keeps getting better and better, and it's really fun to be a part of that.”
Azure, an 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare (Omar x Cavalier Roselier) owned by Anne Moran, Caroline Moran, and Michael Moran, will head to her first five-star at Maryland after winning the Mars Bromont CCI4*-L (Canada) in June.
Dutton’s had “Sky” for a year and a half, and he’s getting used to riding a mare at the top levels, something that hasn’t happened often in his career.
“I haven't had the right good one to go along with,” he said. “It’s fun, and it is a little bit different than riding a gelding. This one's very opinionated and has her own mind up made up about how it should be done, and so I've got to be very tactful how I ride her.”
“Up until now it hasn't been much of a partnership,” he added with a laugh. “It's been all on her terms. It's all about what she wants to do. I'm gradually just trying to encourage her to let me have a little bit of a say, and it's getting better—like a lot of the partnerships I have with my women at home!”
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About the USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC)
The USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC), presented by Nutrena Feeds, is the pinnacle of the sport at the national levels. Held annually, the best junior, adult amateur, and professional competitors gather to vie for national championship titles at every level from Beginner Novice to Advanced. This ultimate test of horse and rider draws hundreds of combinations from around the country to compete for fabulous prizes, a piece of the substantial prize money, and the chance to be named the National Champion at their respective levels. In fact, the 2021 AEC garnered over 1,000 entries and now stands as the largest eventing competition in North American history. The 2023 USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Nutrena Feeds will be held Aug. 29—Sept. 3 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky. Click here to learn more about the USEA American Eventing Championships.
The USEA would like to thank Presenting Sponsor: Nutrena Feeds; Advanced Final Title Sponsor: Adequan; Platinum Level Sponsor: Bates Saddles; Gold Level Sponsors: Capital Square, Horse & Country, Parker Equine Insurance, Smartpak, Standlee; Silver Level Sponsors: Auburn Labs, Ecogold, Kerrits, The Jockey Club; Bronze Level Sponsors: 70 Degrees, Athletux, Black Petticoat, The Chronicle of the Horse, Devoucoux, D.G. Stackhouse and Ellis, Dubarry of Ireland, Equestrian Team Apparel, Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, Horseware Ireland, Majyk Equipe, Retired Racehorse Project, Ride EquiSafe; Contributing Level Sponsor: CrossCountry App, Georgetown – Scott County Tourism, Lexmark, L.V. Harkness, Mountain Horse, Mrs. Pastures Cookies, #WeRideTogether; Prize Level Sponsors: Coach Daniel Stewart, EquiFit, Equilab, Equiluxe Tack, Equine Essentials, Equine Pulse Performance, FarmVet, Achieve Equine/FLAIR Equine Nasal Strips, Horses 4 Your Consideration, Hound & Hare, I Love My Horse Eventing Boutique, Jack’s Favorites, Jane Heart Jewelry, Kinetic Equine Services, LeMieux, Levade Kentucky, Mare Modern Goods, OneTouch Fly Spray, Parkmore Supplements, Practical Horseman, Sidelines Magazine, Spy Coast Farm, Strides for Equality Equestrians, and VTO Saddlery.
About the $60,000 Adequan USEA Advanced Final
The $60,000 Adequan® USEA Advanced Final will take place at the 2023 USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Nutrena Feeds at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky, Aug. 29—Sept. 3, 2023. Thanks to Adequan’s amazing support, the Adequan® USEA Advanced Final will bring together the country’s top riders to vie for $60,000 in prize money and the title of Adequan® Champion. To qualify for the $60,000 Adequan® USEA Advanced Final at the AEC in 2023, competitors will need to complete a minimum of two events without cross-country jump penalties at any USEA recognized Advanced horse trials, CCI4*-S, CCI4*-L , CCI5*-L, World Championships or Olympic Games. Click here to learn more about the $60,000 Adequan® USEA Advanced Final.
As Tropical Storm Ophelia brought soaking rains to the region today, the Plantation Field International continued its four days of competition with CCI3*-S and CCI4*-S show jumping and cross-country for CCI1*-S, CCII2*-S, and CCI3*-S divisions.
The USEA Area IX Championships took place during two different horse trials this summer, with the Modified Championships as part of the The Event at Archer (Cheyenne, Wymoming) in August and the Preliminary, Training, Novice, and Beginner Novice Championships taking place during The Event at Skyline (Mount Pleasant, Utah) in September. In addition, Area IX offered additional championship tests at the Starter and Tadpole levels at Skyline.
The CCI4*-S division at the 2023 Plantation Field International Horse Trials kicked off today with 39 horses headed down centerline. Local rider Boyd Martin of Coatesville, Pennsylvania, topped the leaderboard riding Luke 140, owned by the Luke 140 Syndicate, and is also tied for third (28.8) with the Annie Goodwin Syndicate’s Fedarman B. Martin is also placed 23rd with Contessa, owned by the Turner family.
The United States Eventing Association, Inc. (USEA) is humbled to announce the return of long-time partner The Dutta Corporation as the “Title Sponsor of the 2023 USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) Championships,” which include the East Coast Championships at the Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill in Elkton, Maryland, on Oct. 19-20 and the West Coast Championships at Twin Rivers Ranch in Paso Robles, California, on Oct. 27-28.