Hannah Sue Burnett and Liz Halliday-Sharp both sealed the deal on wire-to-wire CCI wins today at the inaugural Ocala Jockey Club International Three-Day Event to take home a serious chunk of the hefty $100,000 prize purse.
Hannah and Cooley Dream, an 8-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by Cooley Dream LLC, led the CCI2* after Thanksgiving Day’s dressage on 43.9, then added 2.8 time penalties on cross country and jumped a double clear show jumping round today to take the win on a final score of 46.7.
“I’ve been riding with Silvio Mazzoni for a couple years now, and this last year I’ve really been focusing on the show jumping. It’s my favorite phase, and I’m lucky enough to ride some really good jumpers in Under Suspection and now Cooley Dream, and it’s fun to go in and be confident,” Hannah said.
“I just have to keep that in check a little bit and not get lackadaisical in the ring. ‘Cooley’ was really over-careful in warm-up today, so I was worried that I wasn’t riding forward enough, but Silvio helped me with that. Then he went in and jumped a really good round.”
Silvio takes a bit of a different approach to show jumping training, Hannah explained, which has totally overhauled how she prepares for the phase. “You have to really commit to his process and program, and he’s such a big picture type of person,” she said.
“His wife Jessie and I are good friends. It’s good team camaraderie, and I feel like we make our own little team here (in Ocala), and for me that’s really important. For me to feel competitive I need to feel supported and be supporting others, so it’s really special to have Sinead (Halpin), Lynn (Symansky) and Jennie (Brannigan) here as good team players. We all want to see each other succeed.”
With that team-player mentality in mind, Hannah gave Jennie Brannigan a big high five as they passed each other in the main stadium. Jennie jumped a beautiful clear round just before Hannah aboard Beth Battel’s Cool As Ice to finish second in the mare’s first CCI2* on 52.7. “Casi,” an 8-year-old Holsteiner Beth bred here in the States, finished seventh in the Plantation Field CIC2* and is definitely making her mark as an exciting up-and-coming mount for Jennie.
Boyd Martin and Santos, a 7-year-old Thoroughbred gelding owned by Craig and Gloria Callen and Ron and Densey Juvonen, were the only combination in the CCI2* field to finish on their dressage score. They jumped a beautiful clear round today to place third on 53.1.
Looking to the rest of the CCI2* field, Tiffani Loudon-Metze and Hap had one rail down in show jumping to finish fourth on 59.8, and Hillary Irwin and Kilbeggan left all the poles in the cups to round out the top five on 60.9.
Liz Halliday-Sharp Rebounds With CCI* Win
It’s been an emotional fall season for Liz Halliday-Sharp. Since losing her four-star partner HHS Cooley at Burgham in July, she recovered from breaking the C7 vertebrae in her neck and returned to FEI competition in September. This weekend marked her first CCI since getting back in the tack, and she rebounded in a big way to win the CCI* with Deniro Z.
One rail down in show jumping saw Liz finish on a final score of 40.7, the lowest finishing score in the competition. “Niro,” an 8-year-old KWPN gelding she owns, can be a bit “spicy,” as Liz put it, and she thinks that extra bit of pizzazz in his personality is what sets him apart as a top athlete.
“He is a great jumper and he tries so hard. He can have the odd rail because he has a unique style of jumping,” Liz said. “He’s the kind of horse where if you give him a little too much leg at the wrong time, you can flatten him a bit. I wasn’t completely straight to the Swedish oxer, so it wasn’t his fault we had the rail. He tried so hard all week, and I couldn’t be more happy with him.”
Liz is also thrilled with the win because she is hoping to syndicate Niro so they can continue their partnership. “I’ve produced him from the very beginning of his career, and he’s come a really long way, so I’d love to see what’s next,” she said. Niro has already competed at the Intermediate level in England, and Liz said she is aiming to step him up to the two-star level next spring.
The win certainly softens the blow after Liz withdrew Elarona, who was in second place in the CCI* after cross country, from the holding box at this morning’s horse inspection. Thankfully, the mare is just a bit foot sore and will be totally fine.
“The Ocala area hasn’t had rain recently, and the organizers and grounds crew did everything they could to get the footing on cross country as good as it possibly could be considering the conditions. Thank you to them for their hard work. It has been an amazing event,” Liz said.
“It was really nice to have a win at the end of the year after what’s happened — having such a tough year and a few trips to the hospital and losing Cooley. I think we can all now take a breath and look forward to 2017.”
Show jumping significantly shuffled the standings in the CCI*, and Leslie Law and Fernhill Divergent moved from fourth up to second place on 44.7 thanks to jumping a clear round inside the time. Leslie temporarily has the ride on the 6-year-old KWPN gelding, owned by Julie Richards and Carol Gee, while Julie nurses a broken collarbone after falling at Fair Hill.
Jon Holling and Sportsfield Two Doors Down also jumped a clear round to move from fifth up to finish third on 45.3. The 7-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare owned by Foshay South Eventing also made her one-star debut at this event to cap what has been a fantastic weekend for Jon. He finished second yesterday in the CIC3* with Downtown Harrison, so he’s enjoying a big piece of the prize money pie.
Looking to the rest of the CCI* leaderboard, Doug Payne and Flagmount’s Mischief delivered a clear show jumping round to move from seventh to fourth on 46.9. Doug also finished a second ride inside the top 10 in Getaway, who placed sixth on 48.8. Allison Springer and Business Ben had one rail down to finish fifth on 47.5.
We have to send a special shout out to our guest, Frenchman Astier Nicolas, who catch-rode FE Ophelia to a ninth-place finish in the CCI*. Stay tuned for much more from Astier here on EN, but here’s a sneak peek: He’s hoping to bring his Rio team gold medalist and individual silver medalist partner Piaf de b’Neville to Rolex Kentucky next spring!
It’s been a wonderful weekend here at the Ocala Jockey Club, and we are so grateful to all of you who tuned in to our coverage over this holiday weekend. If you missed any of the action, you can re-watch the entire competition live thanks to EQTV at this link. Click here to catch up with all of EN’s #OJCInternational coverage. Go Eventing.