We’ve just had our first member of Team USA come home on cross-country day here at Boekelo, and Liz Halliday and Fernhill By Night came oh so close to bringing home a clear round for America. This is Blackie’s first CCI3* event, and he just moved up to the Advanced level this year, so I was thrilled to see him looking so confident around Sue Benson’s course when I watched their trip on the big screen in the main arena. They made it all the way around to fence 21 taking all the direct routes and unfortunately had a runout at fence 21c, a skinny coming down a hill, just three fences from home. The going is very sloppy about a third of the way through the field, and the footing has already deteriorated badly in certain spots on course, especially at the skinny where Liz and Blackie picked up their runout.
I was feeling very good about their ability to bring home a clear round until Felix Vogg and Onfire, who were sitting in 10th place overnight and went out on course just before Liz and Blackie, had a runout at the same fence just minutes before she came through. Onfire slipped a bit on take off and bailed out, and it looked like Blackie also slipped and just wasn’t feeling secure enough to take off. He actually locked on beautifully, and I thought he was going to go, but he just changed his mind at the last minute. Liz is understandably very bummed, and she told me after her ride that she likely would have taken the alternate route at fence 21 had she not been in a team scenario, but she promised she would go for it, and she did. It really was a brilliant trip up until that point, with Blackie looking very confident and locked on to his lines.
Today was a big ask for Blackie, and despite the runout, I still think he rose to the occasion; he definitely grew up out there on course, and we’re surely looking at a horse for the future. Lauren Kieffer and Veronica are next out for Team USA at about 2:10 p.m. local time, or 8:10 a.m. EST, and Boyd Martin and Trading Aces will be third to last to go out at about 3:54 p.m. local time, or 9:54 a.m. local time. You can follow along on the live stream by clicking here. Michael Jung and fischer Rocana FST are currently leading thanks to delivering one of only two double clear cross-country trips so far. The time was already tricky to make, but all the rain we’ve had over the past 24 hours has made it even more difficult. Izzy Taylor and KBIS Starlet are the only other pair to make the time so far.