Liz Halliday-Sharp and Deborah Halliday’s Fernhill By Night set the early tone in the Setters’ Run Farm CIC3* on a brisk morning of dressage at the Cloud 11~Gavilan North LLC Carolina International in Raeford, North Carolina, scoring 27.0 to hold the lead with just a handful of horses still to come tomorrow.
That score, which under the new FEI scoring system for 2018 removes the 1.5 coefficient, ties the dressage record of 40.5 set by Jan Byyny and Inmidair in the first running of the CIC3* at this event in 2014. “Blackie,” a 15-year-old Irish Sport Horse (Radolin X Argentina XII, by Argentinus), is no stranger to leading after the first phase.
“He felt amazing yesterday, and I thought, This horse is going to be flying!’ He’s notoriously a bit lazy, and he was a bit lazy in the trot work (today); normally it’s the other way around and he’s lazy in the canter,” Liz said. “I think he’s hitting his prime this year. He feels the best he’s ever felt this year — he’s 15 now — so hopefully 15 will be his year.”
Buck Davidson and Carlevo LLC’s Carlevo, an 11-year-old Holsteiner (Caresino X Ramatuelle, by Levernois) sit second in the CIC3* on 27.6, which bests his dressage mark of 29.2 (converted from former FEI scoring) from last year at this event.
“I feel like he’s a stronger, better horse this year. He’s always been very rideable and quiet, but he’s got a bit more expression now, and he’s much stronger now carrying me through the test,” Buck said.
“It always takes more time (to produce a horse) than everybody wants. … He’s been in the 30s before in the old scoring system a bunch, so it’s all in there. He’s been doing it for a few years, so now it’s about making everything better rather than just doing it.”
Ellie MacPhail O’Neal and Sally Cox’s RF Eloquence, a 13-year-old Holsteiner (Contender X D-Ginger, by Grundyman xx), round out the top three in the CIC3* on a three-star personal best of 27.7 (41.6 under former FEI scoring) — a full 9.7-mark improvement over their score from Red Hills two weeks ago.
“He was a little fresh (at Red Hills), so today I was really happy with him,” Ellie said. “He kept his cool in the ring. He’s always been really good on the flat, so it was about getting the relaxation and showing him off in the ring.”
Ellie saw his flying changes as the highlight of the test — “Ricky Bobby” nailed both of them — and said it feels fantastic to be getting back in the swing of things after a six-month hiatus last year when she passed the reins to her husband, Alex, while healing from a broken collarbone.
“Before that he had lost some confidence jumping cross country, so we had agreed to back off and do some two-stars in the fall anyways to get him going. He came out this year more confident than ever.”
Ellie is tentatively aiming for a return trip to Kentucky CCI4* with Ricky Bobby, though she is also eyeing Jersey Fresh CCI3* as a back-up plan.
Looking to the rest of the CIC3* leaderboard, Doug Payne and Lisa Wall’s Getaway, an 11-year-old Oldenburg by Contendro, delivered a seriously impressive test in the horse’s three-star debut to sit fourth on 28.3 — keep an eye on this one, y’all!
Lynn Symansky has two rides in the top, sitting fifth with Mary Ann Ghadban’s Under Suspection, a 14-year-old Holsteiner mare (Contender X Naomagic I, by Exorbitant xx). Lynn also sits sixth on 28.8 with the Donner Syndicate’s Donner, a 15-year-old Thoroughbred (Gorky Park X Smart Jane, by Smarten), who is aiming for his ninth CCI4* at Kentucky this spring.
Liz Halliday-Sharp also has two rides in the top 10, sitting in equal seventh on 28.9 with Deniro Z. “Niro,” a 10-year-old KWPN (Zapatero VDL X Zonne-Trend, by French Buffet xx) owned by the Deniro Syndicate and Ocala Horse Properties, is performing the test ride at Kentucky CCI4*, so you’ll see him there if you attend the Best Weekend All Year.
Sharon White and Cooley On Show, an 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse (Ricardo Z X Jogantina, by Grand d’Espagne), are tied for seventh on 28.9. Lauren Kieffer and Team Rebecca’s Veronica, a 16-year-old KWPN mare (Pacific X Kimbel, by Ferro), sit ninth on 29.2. Doug Payne also has two rides in the top 10 and sits 10th with Debi Crowley’s Vandiver, a 14-year-old Trakehner (Windfall II X Visions of Grandeur, by Mystic Replica xx) on 29.6.
With the 1.5 dressage coefficient removed from FEI scoring, we will now see scores much more tightly bunched at international competitions. Case in point — one rail currently separates the top 13 in the CIC3*, with two rails separating the top 28. The jumping phases will become more influential under this new scoring system, and horses that can finish on their dressage scores will benefit immensely.
We still have seven more pairs to come in the CIC3* tomorrow, including Kim Severson and Cooley Cross Border — EN’s pick to win — who were delayed in arriving at the Carolina Horse Park due to heavy snowfall in Virginia.
If you tuned in to the EQSportsNet live stream of the CIC3* today, you enjoyed top-notch commentary from Nicole Brown — who is over from England and thoroughly enjoying her first trip to America! — along with Sinead Halpin, Jon Holling, Ian Stark and Karen O’Connor.
The remaining seven dressage tests in the CIC3* will not be live streamed tomorrow. The broadcast will resume at 10 a.m. EST with CIC3* show jumping, followed by CIC2* show jumping at 1 p.m. EST.
Marc Donovan’s show jumping course always proves extremely influential at Carolina. Every winner in CIC3* history of this event has jumped clear in show jumping, so the pressure will be on the top of the leaderboard tomorrow.
If you haven’t yet previewed Ian Stark’s beefy cross country course for the CIC3*, click here to take a fence-by-fence tour of the track, which runs in a reverse direction this year. Click here to read EN data analyst Maggie Deatrick’s full analysis of the CIC3* field. Stay tuned for much more from Carolina, including more photos. Go Eventing.