Liz Halliday-Sharp Gallops to the Win in The Event at TerraNova CCI4*-S

The question everyone had heading into the cross country phase of the CCI4*-S class at TerraNova was, “Will he or won’t he?” (or if you’d rather – Will Will or won’t Will?).

Will Coleman and Hyperion Stud LLC’s Chin Tonic HS (Chin Champ x Wildera, by Quinar Z) led the field on a 19.6 after dressage and show jumping, giving the pair a seven point margin over second place Liz Halliday-Sharp aboard Ocala Horse Properties’ and The Monster Partnership’s Cooley Be Cool (Fortuna x HHS Carlotta, by Cavalier Royale).

But there was much speculation over whether or not Will would actually leave the start box aboard “Chin”, an 11-year-old Holsteiner bred in Germany by Inken Von Graefin Platen-Hallermund, who won the CCI4*-S at Carolina two weeks ago and is aimed at the Land Rover Kentucky CCI5* later this month.

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Be Cool. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

We finally had our answer this morning when Will withdrew, choosing to use his weekend as a big-atmosphere combined test instead. That left the door wide open for the next five top-placed competitors, who were separated on the leaderboard by only two penalties. Several other pairs also withdrew before the cross country phase, including Buck Davidson’s Sorocaima (Rock Hard Ten xx x Sankobasi xx, by Pulpit xx) and Erroll Gobey (Cassini II x Ulla II, by Contender), both of whom are also aimed at Kentucky.

Will’s withdrawal of Chin Tonic left Liz occupying two of the top three spots, moving her to the top of the leaderboard with Cooley be Cool and putting her into a tie for second place with  Shanroe Cooley (Dallas x Shanroe Sapphire, by Condios), who sat on a 28.1 alongside Caroline Martin‘s mount HSH Blake (Tolan R x Doughiska Lass, by Kannan). It also shifted everyone’s favorite amateur event rider Dan Krietl into third position on a score of 28.3 aboard Kay Dixon’s Carmango (Chirivell x Taramanga, by Templer xx).

There was plenty to do out there today on Capt. Mark Phillips’ CCI4*-S track, one that featured quite a few twists and turns that all but guaranteed that the optimum time would be difficult to make.

Dan Kreitl and Carmango. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Originally the 4*-S was slotted to begin around mid-day, but due to a projected high temperature around 90 degrees the decision was made to shift the class forward to the morning, allowing for cooler temperatures, with the first horse leaving the start box at 8:45 a.m.

While 38 of the 46 riders that started cross country came home with zero jump penalties — an 82.6% clear rate for what several riders described as a “fair and friendly” track (check out the course preview here) — the course did cause problems for a few pairs, including two that are on the entry list for Kentucky.

Lexi Scovil and Chico’s Man VDF Z (Chico’s Boy x Chardonnay Z, by Caretano Z) had their first bit of trouble with a runout at 12b, the very skinny open corner out of the first water complex. A few fences later the pair parted ways at 15a, the angled brush. Hawley Bennet-Awad and long-time partner Jollybo (Jumbo x Polly Coldunnell xx by Danzig Connection xx) had an uncharacteristic miscommunication at the B element of the table-to-brush corner combination at 9AB, which resulted in fall for Hawley. Jamie Kellock also had a fall at fence 5, the collapsible picnic table. All horses and riders are reported to be fine and back at the barns.

As suspected, the open oxer at 12B proved to be the bogey fence of the course, causing two other runouts and an activated MIM-clip. Almost all the jump penalties recorded today were at one of the course’s four corners, with problems also seen at 20b, a left-handed brush corner, and 6b, a right-handed brush corner.

Time penalties proved to be by far the most influential element of this phase, though, with no horse and rider pairs logging a double clear round. The two fastest rounds of the day belonged to Liz aboard Cooley Be Cool and Dan aboard Carmango, both stopping the clock with only four time penalties.

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Nutcracker. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Liz’s clear, fast round secured her spot atop the leaderboard, finishing on a score of 30.6 penalties with Cooley Be Cool. She had three horses in the class, all finishing in the top 10: Cooley Nutcracker came home in 6th place position, and Shanroe Cooley finished in ninth, both adding only time penalties to their dressage scores. Cooley Be Cool, a 10-year-old Irish Sporthorse Gelding bred in Ireland by Marion Hughes, is on a bit of a hot streak this spring, having also just won the CCI3*-S at Carolina two weeks ago.

“I had sort of my slightly younger, less experienced four-star horses here, and I thought it was great for that,” Liz said. “I sort of planned to not run my other two that quickly and just give them a really good confident first four-star of the year, and everything went to plan.”

When asked what’s next for Cooley Be Cool, known in the barn as “Dave”, Liz chuckled and said “The plan is for Dave to do the Ocala four-star and then he’ll have one more little prep run, and hopefully he’ll be going to the five-star at Luhmühlen.”

Dan Krietl, no doubt a crowd favorite here at TerraNova despite being over 1,000 miles away from his home base of Muncie, IN, crept his way up the leaderboard after each phase of this weekend’s competition. He and Carmango were ninth after dressage on a 28.3, a clear show jumping moved them up to fifth, and today’s fast trip across the country had the pair finishing on a 32.3 for second place.

“He was great,” Dan said, “He started out well in the dressage, it was one of our better tests for sure.”

The most exciting part of his weekend though, if you ask Dan, was his clear show jumping round. Just last month Dan and Carmango saw their weekend ended early at the Eventing Grand Prix at Bruce’s Field, where five rails resulted in the pair’s first compulsory retirement.

“Show jumping has been my weakness for far too long, so it was probably the highlight of the year for me getting a double clear show jumping round, especially because I kind of did a faceplant at the Aiken showcase and had a bunch of rails down.”

He was quick to thank Bobby Costello for his help with that phase, saying Bobby “took the time to call me after my show jumping results were going the wrong direction and gave me some great advice.”

Caroline Martin and King’s Especiale. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Dan and Carmango, who was bred in Germany by Heinrich Bergendahl, seemed to be out for a merry jaunt across the country this morning. “For the cross country he was right there with me and had a nice open gallop over the course. It was a lot of fun and I enjoyed it.” Dan is next headed to Kentucky, where he’ll look to finish strong in the Lexington CCI4*-S.

Caroline Martin brought two CCI4* first timers to TerraNova in HSH Blake and King’s Especiale (Connect x Cha Cha Cha Special, by Vittorio), both only 8-years-old. HSH Blake in particular made his debut an impressive one by securing a third place finish, adding only eight cross country time penalties to his dressage score.

“Over the moon!” Caroline said about her weekend with both of her young superstars. “My two four-star horses, HSH Blake and King’s Especiale, they’re unbelievable. Blake obviously shined this weekend and placed third, but I’m really excited to have two eight-year-olds, I think the world of them.”

Caroline was also pleased with the course for her two young horses in particular. “I thought it was quite nice for young horses. I wouldn’t say it was the most challenging four-star out there but I thought it was fair.”

Leslie Law and Voltaire de Tre. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Of the 11 Kentucky-bound pairs that contested TerraNova this weekend, the top placed finisher was Voltaire de Tre (Gentleman IV x Jasmina du Fresne, by Socrate de Chivre), expertly piloted by Leslie Law to add just 8.4 time penalties to his dressage score, finishing in 8th place. The big flashy Selle Francais gelding, bred in France by Roland Bazire, will be seeking to make his fifth CCI5* start later this month.

That wraps up our CCI4*S coverage from TerraNova! Go Eventing!

This article will be updated with more photos — stay tuned!

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