Three of the U.S. riders got to take a turn at the top of the dressage leaderboard today at the 2019 Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials. Liz Halliday-Sharp and Deniro Z, the 11-year-old KWPN gelding (Zapatero VDL x Zonne-Trend) owned by the Deniro Syndicate and Ocala Horse Properties, were the first out for the U.S. this morning and their 28.4 gave them the first spot ahead of Thursday’s leader, Eliza Stoddart and Priorspark Opposition Free.
“I was thrilled with him,” said Halliday-Sharp after her test. “He is not that experienced at this level and it is a [personal best] for him. I am obviously always hoping for better and better every time so it is nice that we are there.”
Halliday-Sharp’s time at the top was short-lived as fellow U.S. rider, Hannah Sue Burnett laid down a 26.9 with Harbour Pilot, Jacqueline Mars’ 16-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Cruising x Shannon), to take a commanding lead that lasted for nearly 20 horses.
“I am really, really excited,” said Burnett. “I have been riding Harbour Pilot for about 10 years now so he is like a fine wine – he is just getting better and better with age. It is really special to be here, but I wish that Harbour Pilot’s breeder and owner, Jacquline Mars could be here. She is a really special person to me and really been there for me through thick and thin. Hopefully, we can go for it the rest of the weekend.”
Mrs. Mars owns two horses competing at Burghley and her second entry, Vermiculus, decided to outdo Harbour Pilot and scored a 26.7 to inch Burnett out of first.
“He certainly doesn’t like the rain,” said Lauren Kieffer of Vermiculus, the 12-year-old Anglo Arabian gelding (Sazeram x Wake Me Gently). “I thought once it started pouring in the warm-up and he started turning his butt to the rain that my day of trying to be competitive was done and that I was going to be trying to survive the test. He was a total workman in there. In the past he has been really cheeky and thrown in a lot of extra movements, but he really buckled down today so hopefully we are on a new upward trend with that.”
The last group of dressage tests brought forth some exciting pairs and pushed the U.S. riders down in the rankings. A trio of British riders claimed the top three spots with Pippa Funnell and MGH Grafton Street leading on a 22.8, Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class second on a 25.3, and Izzy Taylor third on a 25.6 with Springpower. Kieffer sits fourth, Burnett in equal fifth with Badminton winners Piggy French and Vanir Kamira, and Halliday-Sharp in equal seventh.
Buck Davidson and Jak My Style, Kathleen and Robert Cuca’s 14-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, scored a 34.3 to sit in a tie for 34th place.
Lillian Heard and LCC Barnaby, her own 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding’s (Guy Cavalier x Lady Tanjour) are in a tie for 54th place on a 39.1.
Chris Talley and the Unmarked Bills Syndicate’s Unmarked Bills, a 10-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Posse x Kelli’s Ransom), scored a 40.6 for 61st.
Savannah Fulton and Captain Jack, The Full Moon Farm Syndicate’s 16-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Numerous x Lady Malone), marked a 45.4 for 65th.
Looking ahead to Captain Mark Phillips’ cross-country track Halliday-Sharp summed it up perfectly, “It’s big, it’s bold, it’s Burghley.”
“You can have as much of a plan as you want, but God’s probably going to laugh at you and throw it in your face, so we have a million plans, but our biggest goal is just to attack it, try to be efficient, and try to make it as easy as possible on him and get home clear,” added Kieffer.
For Burnett her initial impression was “yikes, it’s huge, but I don’t think anyone feels different about that. I like the options that Mark Phillips gives you to make it more suitable for your horse and not punish you. I think he is a really good designer and I think it suits my horse.”
Miss any of the rides today? You can rewatch them on the Burghley Livestream page here. Just scroll down past the live video.
Cross-country gets underway at 11:00 a.m. (6:00 a.m. EST) tomorrow.
How to follow along:
U.S. Cross-Country Ride Times and Placings:
A double clear cross-country round propelled Rebecca Braitling and Arnell Sporthorses' 11-year-old British Sport Horse gelding Caravaggio II (Vangelis-S x Courtesan) to their first blue ribbon together in the CCI4*-Short, and Haley Turner and her own 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding Shadow Inspector (Tinaranas Inspector x Caragh Roller) continued their run of sub-30 dressage tests to win the CCI3*-Short at the 2022 Twin Rivers Fall International in Paso Robles, California.
USEA podcast host Nicole Brown chats with Interim Eventing Chef d’Equipe and Team Manager of the U.S. Eventing Team Bobby Costello about the Silver Medal Performance put forward by the U.S. Team at the 2022 FEI Eventing World Championships.
There is still time to experience the long format of three-day eventing this year, by competing in a fall USEA Classic Series Event! The USEA Classic Series offers long-format eventing at the Beginner Novice, Novice, Training, Modified, and Preliminary levels, and there are still a few left on the fall calendar in various Areas.
This story first appeared in the August 2022 issue of Sidelines Magazine.
I have had many young horses in my time, and one thing I’ve learned is that it’s rarely the perfect, easy baby that becomes the next superstar. In fact, I’ve always considered it a positive to have the well-behaved youngster throw a little bit of attitude my way, as I believe that it takes fight to become a great event horse.