Liz Halliday-Sharp was out for redemption this year at the Ocala Jockey Club International Three-Day Event. Last year she was leading the CIC3* after dressage and show jumping, but a 20 on cross-country but a kibosh on her win. With a clear cross-country round and just 2.8 time penalties, Halliday-Sharp took home the win with Fernhill By Night, the 15-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Radolin x Argentina XII) she co-owns with her mother, Deborah Halliday.
“I was nearly more nervous here than I have been at all the events he’s done in Europe, which were probably collectively harder courses throughout,” said Halliday-Sharp. “But I suppose having had a mistake last year and being back home again, it’s hard to go out when you’re in the lead.”
“But Blackie’s been amazing this year. He’s really been brilliant everywhere he’s been. I just kept thinking to myself, he’s done a lot of hard questions this year, and he’s good enough to do this. He was absolutely fantastic through all the tough questions like the corners and the angled brushes. He was perfect there. I was really proud of him,” continued Halliday-Sharp.
Halliday-Sharp and Blackie have been together for six seasons and this year Halliday-Sharp changed the plan for the now 15-year-old gelding including running him less and no longer does CCIs with him. In fact this run is Blackie’s first event in three months. While Blackie has had a checkered cross-country record, this new plans seems to be paying off. “When he comes out now to an event, he’s really excited to be there—pumped to be at the party. He knows he can do a good job. I actually think that was part of it. Getting him to that place where he’s like, ‘I know I can do this, I’m the big man, a super star.’”
“The horse deserves this because we’ve had a long time together, and he’s never won a three-star. This is his time to win, so I’m very happy for him,” concluded Halliday-Sharp.
While Halliday-Sharp maintained her top spot on the leaderboard, the CIC3* cross-country shuffled the placings quite a bit. Jonathan Holling moved up from fourth to second with Avoca Druid, Team Rebecca LLC’s 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (King's Master x Knockanree Nell).
Jacob Fletcher had a fall off his first CIC3* ride, so set off on his second determined to finish with a clean round. Fletcher and Bacardi W, Fletcher Farms’ 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Good Times x Sjerlette W) put in the fastest round of the day – crossing the finish line with just 2.4 time penalties.
Phillip Dutton filled fourth and fifth with Fernhill Singapore and Fernhill Fugitive respectively. The remainder of the division all ran into trouble with Felix Vogg, Katherine Coleman, and Nilson Moreira Da Silva all having runouts at the same double brushes that were a bogey on yesterday’s CCI3* course.
Pan Am Games team gold medalist Tamra Smith and Mai Baum and five-star pairs Andrea Baxter and Indy 500 and Frankie Thieriot Stutes and Chatwin headline a strong Advanced field when Twin Rivers begins an exciting season of eventing competition this weekend.
The USEA Future Event Horse (FEH) and Young Event Horse (YEH) programs have around 30 qualifying competitions each, and youngsters around the country are about to begin their seasons aimed at Championships.
As the season begins to turn, the temperature begins to drop, turnout time becomes more limited, schedules shift to accommodate the waning daylight and the possibility for a colicky horse increases. While the exact environmental causes of colic are not well understood, a commonly accepted theory is that any abrupt changes to a horse’s environment or schedule can increase the risk of colic.