Liz Halliday-Sharp and Cooley HHS Calmaria Climb to Tryon International CCI2*-L Win

hallidaySharpCooley HHSCalmariaTR20brinkman11-15s1EA-6145Liz Halliday-Sharp and Cooley HHS Calmaria. Photo by Alleyn Evans for Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Liz Halliday-Sharp prevailed in the Tryon International Guardian Horse Bedding CCI2*-L division with Cooley HHS Calmaria, ending on their dressage score of 28.30. Elizabeth Bortuzzo (USA) and Belongs to Teufer, the 2009 Thoroughbred gelding (Teuflesberg x Belong To Me) owned by John. A Witte, held steady to their dressage score to end up in second on a score of 28.60, while the weeklong leader, Sara Kozumplik Murphy (USA) and Otta B Quality, Edith Rameika’s 2013 Dutch Warmblood gelding, dropped just one rail on course to land in third with a score of 29.20.

Halliday-Sharp and the 2013 Irish Sport Horse mare (Cyrano 145 x Chester Lass) owned in partnership with Cooley Farm have only been partnered since June of this year, she revealed, and found the win to be “a nice surprise” but one that only confirms the quality of the up-and-coming mount.

“It’s a mare that I’ve only had since June, and she only did her first preliminary in July,” Halliday-Sharp revealed. “She’s one of the trickiest horses I’ve ever had and one of the most talented, and I was absolutely thrilled with her this weekend. She definitely did the best dressage that she’s done, which has been our trickiest phase, and she was so perfect on cross-country and exceptional today. She’s very pleased with herself, and I’m really excited about her for the future. I think there is a lot more to come from her, and she’ll be a horse that everyone’s looking up to,” Halliday-Sharp predicted.

Echoing the remarks of her peers, Halliday-Sharp believes “this is an outstanding venue, and I’d say it’s one of the best in the world, undeniably. I can’t think of anywhere better. The efforts that everyone put in was truly Herculean to make everything run,” she continued. “I was the 78th horse out of the box on the 4* and actually, the ground wasn’t that bad. I felt like the ground continued to improve as the day went on, which is incredible.

“I’ve not actually ever experienced any event that put that much true grit and effort into making things run the best they could for the horses,” Halliday-Sharp concluded. “And in terms of the arena, it feels like you’re at a championship here, so I truly hope [this is a regular] event going forward; I cannot think of anywhere that could deliver it like Tryon did.”

BortuzzoTR20brinkman11-15s1EA-7794Elizabeth Bortuzzo and Belongs to Teufer. Photo by Alleyn Evans for Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Bortuzzo acknowledged that while cross-country felt “easy” for her horse, show jumping tends to be “quite an effort” and she was pleased to keep her dressage score the whole weekend through. “We had a consistently decent dressage test, and he was phenomenal out on cross-country. It felt easy, and I think we were going a bit too fast, but he was just traveling around and it felt great. For him, show jumping is quite an effort. I was very surprised but very happy about it. So overall, I couldn’t be happier about how we did across all three phases.”

Bortuzzo is a first-time competitor at TIEC and shared that she was originally uncertain about making the trip from Pittstown, NJ, but now plans to return if she’s able. “I haven’t ever been to the venue and it is quite gorgeous. I brought the horses on quite a few trail rides across the whole property, and it is lovely. For not being quite perfect condition-wise, the cross-country course was lovely, too. I had no intention of coming all the way down to North Carolina, but we are very glad we came!” Bortuzzo admitted.

“It was a little bit of a year full of ups and downs. But hopefully this horse will get going next year with some intermediates and a 2*-L at some point. But, we hope to be back here next fall. Hopefully we can pull off a great result again! We are very thankful for you guys for hosting such a lovely event, and even in these challenging times it all came off with any hitches,” she concluded.

kozumplikmurphySaraTR20brinkman11-15s1EA-7969Sara Kozumplik Murphy and Otta B Quality. Photo by Alleyn Evans for Shannon Brinkman Photography.

After a heartbreaking touch that dropped a rail, Murphy remained in third place with Otta B Quality and conceded that it was a great result for the gelding’s first FEI competition. “I was disappointed, obviously. He’s a very clean show jumper generally, and he just touched the middle of the triple, which wasn’t that big of a deal. It’s just how it goes. Coming into the competition I would have certainly been happy with third place, but it’s hard when you drop from first to third! That’s just how it goes. That’s why it’s three phases and you have to pull it out on every one of them.”

Most importantly, Murphy commented, was that her horse gained strength and experience from his time at the venue and will only come back next season a stronger, more powerful ride. “He tried very hard and it’s been a very big year for him. As he’s moving up the levels he’s getting a lot stronger. He’s trying very hard and will certainly come away from this event a much better horse. He’s going to go have a big holiday now! I’ll let him completely down and then bring him back up again. My goal is to be here next year in the three-star.”

Her three-star goals don’t mean that she will rush “Otter” in any way, Murphy added. “He doesn’t need to do a three-star in the spring, but I think he should just keep picking away and gaining experience [where he’s at now] while working all year to do the next level up [in the fall]. That should be the goal. This horse is a slow grower and needs time to make sure he’s strong enough. When they’re big and loose movers like he is, you have to be extra sure that they’re really strong.”

Murphy concluded, “I think he’s pretty special. I didn’t have exactly the weekend that I wanted, but my horses did well in every situation, and the venue did everything they could to pull this off. This wouldn’t have been possible without Tryon because there was nowhere else that could’ve done it. It’s nice for us to be able to get out and keep our sport going.”

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Coverage of Tryon International this weekend is brought to you by Strides for Equality Equestrians (SEE). Diversity and inclusion in all equestrian sports are important, and we’ll be bringing you tidbits on what this new organization hopes to accomplish.