Liz Halliday-Sharp dominated on a drizzly day at Pine Top Advanced Horse Trials in Thomson, Georgia, with wins in two of the three Advanced divisions, all of which ran in a one-day format.
Cooley Quicksilver, an 8-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Womanizer X Kylemore Crystal, by Creggan Diamond) owned by the The Monster Partnership, impressed in his Advanced debut and delivered the lowest finishing score across all three divisions. “Oshy,” or “Monster” as he’s known to his friends, scored 30.5 in dressage, added no penalties in show jumping and 2.4 time penalties on cross country to clinch the win on 32.9.
“He’s always been a bit of a freak,” Liz said. “We’ve had him since he was a very green 5-year-old, and he’s definitely his own person, but today he was incredible in the jumping phases. He just found it all very easy, which is amazing for an 8-year-old. I’m very excited about him turning into the top horse we always knew he could be.”
Liz said representing the U.S. at Le Lion d’Angers in the FEI World Breeding Championships for Young Horses in France last year, where he finished seventh, definitely helped Oshy mature, especially in regards to his gallop.
“He’s really learned to gallop now; I think Le Lion was the making of that. Today he really covered the ground because I didn’t feel like I was hassling or chasing him. He obviously was a bit green with the size of the cross country — I had to help him a little bit with my leg — but that’s any horse in his first Advanced.”
Oshy is next entered in the Advanced at Red Hills, with a plan to contest the CCI4*-S at both Carolina International and The Fork at Tryon, followed by the CCI3*-L at Tattersalls in Ireland. Liz ultimately hopes Oshy will make a case for contention for the U.S. Pan American Games team throughout the remainder of his spring campaign.
Liz’s five-star partner Deniro Z took the win in the Advanced Test A-B division. “Niro,” an 11-year-old KWPN gelding (Zapatero VDL X Zonne- Trend, by French Buffet xx) owned by The Deniro Syndicate, sat second after dressage on 30.5, delivered a clear show jumping round and added 4.4 time penalties to win on 34.9.
“Niro hasn’t had a cross country run since Little Downham last year at the beginning of October, so he was a little bit surprised to be out around an Advanced. That was a decision we made with (U.S. Eventing Performance Director) Erik Duvander. He’s a brilliant horse, and a couple of the time faults came with settling in a bit. He was over-jumping a few things and getting himself back together again.”
Niro, one of eight horses named to the 2019 USEF Development Pre-Elite Training List, will contest the CCI4*-S at Carolina International and The Fork at Tryon alongside his stablemate, followed by the second CCI5*-L appearance of his career at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event.
As for the secret to Liz’s success in winning two Advanced divisions today, she said spending a week competing in pure show jumping and dressage classes in Wellington, Florida, earlier this month really helped her fine-tune those two phases ahead of Pine Top.
“The trip to Wellington really upped their game in show jumping and dressage,” Liz said. “I think the horses and I definitely grew while we were away there. It was a really great experience all around. We came in feeling like we’d done a bit more of our homework instead of feeling like it’s early in the season.”
Waylon Roberts and Michelle and John Koppin’s Lancaster, a 12-year-old Canadian Sport Horse gelding by Yavari, topped the other Advanced division on a final score of 40.0. Waylon is based in Aiken, South Carolina, for the winter, but has made several trips down to Ocala, Florida, throughout the winter to ride with David O’Connor, who is the technical advisor to the Canadian Eventing Team.
“We’re a little rusty in the dressage and still getting used to doing changes when we’re supposed to — it’s an ongoing process. David O’Connor has been helping me a lot and really gets the horse, so we’ve been really pleased with how he’s helped us come along,” Waylon said.
“I’m just so pleased for the owners, John and Michelle. They trusted me with this horse (after Boyd Martin had him) and it wasn’t like he was a made horse when I got him. I’m so happy for them that we’ve stuck it through. It’s so impressive for the horse to go win an Advanced. He just keeps answering the questions the right way. There have been bobbles along the way, but it’s all coming together.”
Lancaster will next represent Canada at the $50,000 Liftmaster Grand-Prix Eventing showcase in Aiken next week, followed by the CCI4*-S at Carolina International with an ultimate spring goal of competing at a little event in Kentucky come April.
Looking to how all of the Advanced divisions played out, no pairs finished on their dressage scores. Only 13 of the 43 total combinations (30.2%) delivered clear show jumping rounds over Chris Barnard’s challenging course. The large grass arena features undulating terrain and requires gutsy inside turns and relentless forward riding to catch the time allowed; more than half of the Advanced starters accrued time penalties in show jumping.
Time also proved to be an influential factor on the Advanced cross country course. Matt Flynn and Wizzerd were the only pair across all three Advanced divisions to make the optimum time of 6 minutes, 6 seconds on Derek di Grazia’s track, which demands a bold, forward ride.
It was an absolutely packed day of action at Pine Top today, with six Intermediate divisions also running in a one-day format. Please join me in congratulating the winners of the Intermediate divisions:
- Open Intermediate-A: Will Faudree and Jennifer Mosing & Sterling Silver Stables’ Pfun
- Open Intermediate-B: Boyd Martin and Christine Turner’s On Cue
- Open Intermediate-C: Ryan Wood and Curran Simpson’s Woodstock Bennett
- Intermediate Horse: Colleen Loach and Amanda Bernhard’s FE Golden Eye
- Intermediate Junior Young Rider: Alex Baugh and Altorac Farm’s Mr Candyman
- Intermediate Rider: Andi Lawrence and her own Cooley Northern Mist
Please accept my sincerest apologies for the brevity in this weekend’s reports from Pine Top, as I am also competing myself. The action continues tomorrow with dressage and show jumping for the Preliminary, Training and Novice divisions, followed by cross country on Sunday. Stay tuned for much more from Pine Top! Go Eventing.