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.
At the second-to-last of 40 efforts, "I thought, 'This is actually happening,'" said Amber Levine of a faultless finish with Cellar Farm's Cinzano today to stay on their 31.5 lead going into show jumping tomorrow morning in the Twin Rivers Spring International CCI4*-L. The Jeffs Hot Tub Waves complex at 19 a/b was the awkward exception to a Hugh Lochore-designed course that otherwise "rode great" for the 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Classe VDL x Walta) in his long-delayed debut at the level. An entirely new portion of the course around the racetrack featured a series of bright-white painted obstacles, but nothing distracted Cinzano's "tunnel vision for those flags." Levine expects a similar game attitude tomorrow and has a rail to spare.
Black stallion antics after the CCI4*-L jog inspection yesterday were not a preview of Cinzano's dressage test today. "When you are riding and working him, he's all into what you are doing," says Amber Levine, who owns the 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Classe VDL x Walta) through her Cellar Farm. A 31.5 dressage test puts them atop a field of four, three of which, including Cinzano, are first-timers in the division in Paso Robles, California.
Are you following along with the action from home this weekend? Or maybe you're competing at an event and need information fast. Either way, we’ve got you covered! Check out the USEA’s Weekend Quick Links for links to information including the prize list, ride times, live scores, and more for all the events running this weekend.
The Chattahoochee Hills H.T. is hosting one of three CCI4*-S divisions this weekend across the country and with 34 entries they have the largest turnout as riders prepare for their spring CCI4*-L and CCI5*-L goals. The facility in Fairburn, Georgia is running seven events in 2021, but their April event is the only one offering a CCI4*-S.