Nov 03, 2023

Halliday Increases Her Lead in USEF CCI4*-L Eventing National Championship at Galway Downs

By Lindsay Berreth - USEA Staff
Liz Halliday and Cooley Nutcracker. USEA/Lindsay Berreth photos

Temecula, Calif.—Nov. 3—Liz Halliday didn’t exactly have the morning she was planning on before she hopped on Cooley Nutcracker for cross-country in the CCI4*-L at Galway Downs.

Her first ride, Shanroe Cooley, had an awkward jump over fence 19a, a duck at the Land Rover Mission Vieho Water, and she wasn’t able to stay on.

A little scraped up, she composed herself and got ready with “Bali,” all the while hearing feedback from Clayton Fredericks’ track.

“I had to have a good think about how I was planning to ride that fence because I wasn't convinced they were reading that super well,” said Halliday. “It also was just one of those things that happens. [Shanroe Cooley] had been phenomenal everywhere else, and I don't think it'll affect him. He's a very, very brave horse. I mean, at the end of the day, it's eventing; stuff happens. So, you just have to get yourself organized, change your clothes, and get on the next one. But the biggest thing I wanted to do was change the ride a little to that based on how it was riding. And that worked out fine for [Bali.]”

Bali, a 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Tolant R x Cobra) owned by Halliday, Ocala Horse Properties, Renee Lane, and Deborah Halliday, won the Tryon International CCI4*-L (Mill Spring, North Carolina) in the spring, so he’ll likely be heading to his first five-star next year.

“I mean, he's an incredible horse,” she said. “He's just so talented, so scopey, and so brave. I think now I've got my brakes sorted out a little better, so now I really can ride him fast and bring him back and organize him, which is great, because he had gotten pretty strong at one point in the year. It took him a little while, because he's so careful, and he's got so much scope, he needed to learn how to negotiate the big drops into water and stuff, because he used to just take off like an airplane. That's taken a little bit of just him learning, and he doesn't over jump the jumps anymore.”

Liz Halliday and Cooley Nutcracker.

When Liz realized before she headed out on course that she could afford time faults, she took it easy, adding 9.6, which was still the fastest of the day over the 10-minute course.

“Today he felt like he's ready for a five-star to me, because he just measures everything now, and I have to be brave enough to be calm up to the big drop, not to override it and just trust that he's brave. I can't kick him at it because I don't want him to jump up and out. And now he just knows his place, and he measures himself, and he has a huge engine. He is just a wonderful horse. He is quite quirky. He's very sensitive, very sharp. He is a sensitive ride, but he's just so brave and just a very talented horse, so it's a pleasure.”

Of the 12 starters, seven completed. The first three riders fell off—Tamie Smith parted company from Elliot V at fence 6, Liz from Shanroe Cooley, and Sophia Click fell from Tarantino 54 at 8a, the Adequan Rails. All horses walked off course.

Tommy Greengard and Joshuay MBF were the first pair home, and they’ll head into tomorrow in third place.

Canadian Dana Cooke took a hard fall from FE Quattro at 9b, a brush corner. She was taken away in a medic van for observation.

Smith was eliminated for refusals after trouble at 16c and 20b with Cooley By Design.

Bec Braitling and Caravaggio II.

West Coast-based Australian Bec Braitling had a clear round with 22.8 time penalties aboard Caravaggio II, a 12-year-old British Sport Horse gelding (Vangelis S x Handstreich) owned by Arnell Sporthorses. She sits 22.2 penalties behind Liz in second place on 61.7.

Braitling’s been based in Europe for three months this year to be able to up her game, and she said it paid off today.

“I was wanting to capitalize on some fitness that I built, and I thought why not come back and do something familiar, and then I got out there and I was like, this is really hard!” she said. “I was a little bit probably shocked that it rode a lot harder, perhaps than it walked. I'm really lucky. He's a little more experienced now at the four-star level, so I think we got to rely on that a little bit today. My goal was to have just a good confidence-building run for him. I'm thrilled he stepped up.”

The pair was able to compete at Aachen in Germany with the Australian team, as well as Jardy in France, and Hartpury in England before completing the Blenheim CCI4*-L in England in September. Basing with Mike and Emma Winter in England for part of the trip helped Braitling “dig in” and learn more about how British-based riders do fitness.

“The Europe trip and Aachen was such a big surprise, so that really sent the year in a different direction,” she said. “I was definitely just blown away, obviously, you know, making the Australian team at Aachen, and then it was a huge learning experience. I think that really helped me today, which obviously showed in how he jumped around. Being able to spend three months there and having the owners let me stay and support me in doing it was time well spent. It was just myself and ‘Ernie’ on a big adventure across Europe.”

Riders will show jump tomorrow for top honors in the four-star, which is also serving as the USEF CCI4*-L Eventing National Championship, beginning at 4:45 p.m. PST.

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