At the conclusion of show jumping for The Cordelia Family Foundation CCI3*-S, Liz Halliday-Sharp finds herself still in the favorable position of being in both first and second place.
Her first ride, Cooley Nutcracker, who is owned by Ocala Horse Properties, Deborah Halliday and the rider, made sure to cement her leadership position with a clear round. The 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse (Tolant R x Ballyshan Cleopatra, by Cobra), who was previously piloted through the CCI3*-L by French Olympian Astier Nicholas, remains on his dressage result of 26.7.
With the groundwork laid by Cooley Nutcracker, Liz was able to replicate her earlier performance with another double clear aboard Ocala Horse Properties and The Monster Partnership’s Cooley Be Cool, ensuring she’d be the last three-star rider out on course tomorrow. The 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse’s (Heritgae Fortunus x HHS Carlota) score of 23.1 is still the best of the class.
Liz, who spent many seasons campaigning in the United Kingdom, said her biggest challenge today was not the grass footing, but rather the windy, keyed-up atmosphere for her two rides.
“They’re all wild today. [Cooley Be Cool] was wild, but he’s a horse that if you don’t check in with him and reset him he can just do that to me in the ring. And this is his first event back, so he’s seeing the cross country jumps and feeling rather spritely,” she said. “I love jumping on grass because I did it for twenty years in England. Funnily enough I’m almost more relaxed on grass because it feels like what I’m used to, but the surface was amazing in there. They’ve done a great job. I think it was good for the horses — there was a lot of atmosphere and I think it prepares them for something like Blenheim or Bramham.”
With not one, but two chances to take the division win on cross country, Liz says she’s prioritizing ridability for her top-placed partner. “I’m not going to slob around on [Cooley Be Cool], but I’m not going to hammer him either because it’s his first run of the year. He’s not a horse that goes very slow, so I need to check in with my controls too and make sure I can stop. That was my biggest issue last year was brakes. It’s all about producing him for the next level again, so if he wins, he wins. And if he doesn’t it’s not a big deal.”
On the other hand, Cooley Nutcracker may find the door open for his own top finish. “The other horse I’ll run pretty quick because I need to check in on my brakes,” she said.
Guinea pig Dom Schramm made a very good example of how to ride the day’s show jumping course, going clear aboard Breezeway Sporthorse and Diagnostic Clinic/Friendship Mobile Veterinary Imaging and Sports Medicine CCI2*-S overnight leader Quadrocana.
The German mare (Quadrofino x Roxana II), who is a niece to Michael Jung’s fisherRocana, was the very first entry to test Marc Donovan’s course and she navigated the twists and options with ease to keep her leading position on a two-phase score of 22.7.
Normally very levelheaded, the mare seemed to grow a few inches in the atmosphere of the Twin Gates Field “She’s only had a rail or two down in her career but like normally she would be a lot more businesslike but I found she could just be a little bit funny about flags and things like that,” said the Australian rider. “This is great. I mean, I love coming to events where they get to get a bit of an education and remind them what the big shows are gonna be like.”
Dom plans to use tomorrow’s cross country as a test for this up-and-coming ride. Coming from sunny, sandy Florida, the Carolina Horse Park offers a much different environment. “It looks bloody nice. I like the new kind of flow to the track — a bit of turning, a bit of up and down. I think it’s a it’s a great test for being in March. If you’re down in Florida, and you go on all those shows there you’re mostly going on flat ground and jumping portables. This is the first show that I feel like they get to go out and make it feel a bit more like what’s to come. So that’s why we always like coming here,” he said.
The rest of the top five remains unchanged after the second phase. Caroline Martin is second with Redfield Champion, a 9-year-old Hanoverian (Diarado x Calinka) owned by Sherrie Martin and the rider, on a score of 24.4.
The four-star has just gotten underway, so check back this afternoon for more from Carolina International.