The usually “lazy” Fernhill By Night was feeling himself this afternoon in the show jumping for the $50,000 LiftMaster Grand-Prix Eventing at Bruce’s Field. He and his jockey, Liz Halliday-Sharp, kept hold of their dressage lead after skipping around Michael Vaillancourt’s track.
“He jumped amazing,” Liz gushed. “Richard Picken helped me in the warm up. It’s rare that the horse even has a rub in the warm up, but he did rub one, which I think actually helped him. I think because he had that little touch it was on it — but he is a brilliant jumper. Unless I ride like an idiot, he jumps clear.”
For the 16-year-old Irish Sport Horse (Radolin x Argentina XII, by Argentinus) to be as successful as he was today, the key is carefully crafting his competition season.
“We don’t run him a lot anymore. He was amazing last season because we only ran him about every 8 weeks, and then he comes to the party really excited and ready to fight for it. Hopefully that will carry into tomorrow,” Liz explained.
With a hefty purse on the line, Liz confirmed with EN that she’s going for the win tomorrow. “He’s a big horse, and he’s not the world’s nippiest creature, but he can gallop. I think he’s up to it. Hopefully we’ll keep kicking, take a few risks and do the best that we can.”
For Doug Payne, this weekend with Vandiver is a sweet homecoming. After winning the Carolina International CCI4*-S (Formerly CIC3*) last year, the 15-year-old Trakehner (Windfall x Visions of Grandeur, by Mystic Replica xx), who is owned in partnership between Doug, his wife, Jessica Payne and Debi Crawley, dropped of the radar. Doug explained that they took the time to explore a stifle issue that had always nagged “Quinn.”
“It was a bit of a long journey. It’s been something that I think has actually gone on for a very long time. He had some irregularities in his right stifle, so we went in with a scope right around Kentucky last year, with Dr. Peroni at UGA. We were able to clean it up, and it’s honestly the best he’s felt since I’ve ever ridden him,” Doug said.
Back and feeling better than ever, Quinn had a clear round to remain on his dressage score of 30.8.
Lauren Kieffer and Vermiculus, Jacqueline Mars’ 11-year-old Anglo-Arabian gelding (Serazim X Wake Me Gently), settled right into third after a brilliant effort in the first two phases. “Bug” also stays on his dressage score of 30.9.
Looking forward to his 12th birthday this year, Lauren says that this can be a magical year for some horses. “I’ve always found that once they turn 12 they’re getting so much stronger. His jumping has gotten to a different level this year, so I’m excited. He’s certainly come out feeling more mature and really understanding what his job is,” she said.
Celebrity entrant William Fox-Pitt ends the day in fourth place aboard Sandro’s Star. William said the round wasn’t “as smooth as he wanted,” but since he had his first ride on Sandro only three days ago, I think we’ll forgive him this time.
He and the 11-year-old Oldenburg stallion (Sagnol x Poetic Patter xx, by Nostalgia’s Star xx) owned by Hannah Salazar produced a lovely double clear round for a two-phase score of 31.3.
Carlevo climbed from 8th to 5th after a double clear round with Buck Davidson in the tack. The 12-year-old Holsteiner (Eurocommerce Caresino x Ramatuelle, by Levernois) owned by Carlevo LLC carries 32.1 points into the final phase.
Looking down the leaderboard, Allie Knowles and Boyd Martin share a tie for sixth on 32.7 aboard The Sound Prospect Syndicate’s Sound Prospect and Christine Turner’s Kyra, respectively. Felix Vogg and Jürgen Vogg’s Colero are 8th after one pesky time penalty added .4 to their score. Jennie Brannigan delivered a clear round with Nina Gardner’s Cambalada for 9th and Boyd Martin makes a second appearance for 10th with Ray Price, who is owned by the Ray Price Syndicate.
Keep on eye on this space for much more from Grand-Prix Eventing at Bruce’s Field. We’ll take you around the Aiken-themed cross country course tomorrow morning before all the action kicks off at 2:30 p.m.