Liz Halliday-Sharp and Fernhill By Night delivered the best Advanced score of the day at The Fork to lead the A division on a score of 19.8 after dressage. The 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by Deborah Halliday definitely has an affinity for Advanced Test A, as he also scored a 19 on it last year during a combined test in Ocala.
“I didn’t expect that kind of score, but I think the horse is a lot stronger this year and he has a lot more lift in his paces,” Liz said. “Where he was getting 7s before, he’s getting 8s now.”
“Blackie” is gearing up for another go at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, and similar to Liz’s plan at Carolina International, she is looking to give the horse another confidence-boosting trip around Tremaine Cooper’s cross country course come Sunday.
“It’s about having him come out really happy for Kentucky. I’m trying to get every fence right and keep building his happiness as he goes around,” Liz said. “I think there are enough questions for him (on the Advanced course).”
Boyd Martin and Blackfoot Mystery, a 12-year-old Thoroughbred gelding owned by the Blackfoot Mystery Syndicate, are sitting in second place in the Advanced A division on 25.6 after dressage, with Allison Springer and Arthur, a 17-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by the Arthur Syndicate, in third on 25.6.
Looking to the Advanced B division, Buck Davidson and The Apprentice lead after dressage on 29.6. “I’m really happy with him. He’s a lot more grown up than he was last year. It’s actually not a great test for him because it doesn’t have that much canter work,” Buck said. “He knows his job. He looks better. I’m very excited about him, and I have a lot more confidence in him than I ever have before.”
The 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by Sherrie Martin missed his last run at Carolina International when Buck had to withdraw his remaining horses from the CIC3* after a fall from Carlevo on cross country. The Apprentice is entered to go to Badminton, and Buck said whether “Dirk” makes the trip will depend heavily on how he goes on cross country here at The Fork.
“I sort of got a bit messed up by falling off because my main bullets didn’t get to go with Dirk and (Ballynoe Castle RM) and (Petite Flower). A lot will depend on this weekend. They’re all going well and all got to cross country school at home. Everything happens for a reason. They all feel good and ready, and I’m excited for the spring season.”
Fans of Ballynoe Castle RM, who is EN’s prediction to win the CIC3* at The Fork and will do his dressage tomorrow, were sad not to see him on the entry list for Rolex this year, but Buck hinted that the horse will likely be making an appearance at Jersey Fresh or Bromont instead. “All that I care about is that he’s happy and healthy,” Buck said.
Hannah Sue Burnett and Cooley Dream, an 8-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by Cooley Dream LLC, are sharing second place in the B division on 29.7 in the horse’s first crack at the level. Katie Ruppel and Houdini, her own 12-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, also scored 29.7 to sit in equal second.
If you missed our report on the CIC divisions, click here to get caught up. Maya Black and Doesn’t Play Fair are leading the CIC3* on 41.8 after the first third of the division did dressage today. Doug Payne and Lysander won the CIC2* dressage on 37.0. Sara Kozumplik Murphy and Sebastian are leading the CIC* in the very early going on 38.0.
Heads up to everyone competing that on Friday night Holling Eventing will be sponsoring a reprise of last night’s wildly popular Welcome Party — in which Meg Kep finally got the 90′s dance party she’s always dreamed of — with a DJ, bar and food.
Be sure to check Instagram for photos throughout the weekend. Go Eventing.