Two Horses and Two CCI4*-S Phases in the Bag for Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp at The Fork

©Shannon Brinkman Photography

Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp retained control over the first and second-place slots in CCI 4*-S competition at The Fork at TIEC presented by Lucky Clays Farm hosted at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC), walking away from the Show Jumping phase adding four faults to her score on Fernhill By Night for 28.80 points, and putting in a clear round aboard Deniro Z to maintain her score of 30.10. In third, Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg, the 2007 Trakehner gelding owned by Christine Turner, are no longer tied for the spot, also going clear and under the time to bring a score of 30.20 into cross-country competition.

Halliday-Sharp and the 2003 Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by Deborah Halliday could afford the rail down on the USA’s Chris Barnard-designed course to keep the lead, she allowed, but would rather have saved the cushion for tomorrow’s Cross-Country course. “Blackie [Fernhill By Night] jumped out of his skin and I thought I had it in the bag,” she explained. “He was my first ride of [three] and I just kind of rolled down the last fence. I had a little bit of turn on him still, and he just twisted the tiniest bit into his left shoulder in the air, which is very rare for Blackie. It was probably my fault; maybe I was a little too casual about it because I thought I had it done – and I know better – but the horse jumped amazing, so it’s not his fault.”

With Deniro Z, a 2008 Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by the Deniro Syndicate & Ocala Horse Properties, Halliday-Sharp was thrilled with his performance on the day and looked ahead to her Cross-Country round with Kentucky in mind, saying, “Deniro [Z] really needs a good prep run for Kentucky. I don’t plan to run him slow because I don’t think that would suit him. I need to get him a little bit more with me; he was a bit of an animal Carolina. He’s like an airplane now, he’s so strong and has so much power and I just need to make sure he’s sort of listening to me and that I can put him in the same place looking ahead to Kentucky, so that will be my goal with him.”

“With Blackie, I’m gonna have a damn good crack and try and make the time and try and take him to the win,” Halliday-Sharp elaborated. “I think it’s a stronger track than Carolina, in my opinion, and I think there’s a lot more to do than there was at Carolina, so it will take some riding for sure, especially if you’re going fast. I’m just gonna go out and try to give them a really great run and lots of confidence and kick on,” she concluded.

“I had an up and down day,” said Martin. “The two horses I was worried about having tough rounds on jumped like bunny rabbits. Contestor and Tsetserleg, they were fantastic. My two reliable jumping horses were a little bit spooky today!” Martin detailed that Tsetserleg can be a little bit tricky in the combinations, so the morning’s preparation included “popping him through a couple small, sort of novice-like combinations over and over again, and it just got him thinking, waiting and slow. And then the two combinations [on course] and here arched really well. I was pleased that he jumped not only clear, but in good fashion. I think leading into Kentucky it’s not so much the result, but the feeling they’re giving you when you ride them.”

Martin is hoping to carry that good feeling into the competition, which seems to be overshadowed by one obstacle that didn’t go well for Martin during the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 at the venue last year, he noted. “It’s a very weird thing. Last year’s [WEG] was just a horrible memory here and it was only one jump. It’s a very weird sport because one jump can just destroy emotion or feeling and everyone’s moral for months and months and months, so it’s good to be back here, to be honest.

“Obviously, [for] the boat in the water, I really want to give him a good ride there. I’ve probably gone over that jump [in my mind] more times, you know, what I did wrong, or what could have happened differently than any other jump I’ve ever jumped, so [I’m] looking forward to going in there and riding that in a better way,” Martin remarked. The obstacle looming in his mind is not the only thing Martin needs to pay attention to while on course, he continued. “Then, [in light of] the horses going to Kentucky, I think giving them a slightly quicker round because the ground will be good, and make sure that they’re thinking good. Sometimes if you ride them real fast, the next time you ride them, they’re a bit out of control, so I’ll try and give them a good blow out here – a good fitness run – but then also schooling them a little bit so that they’re waiting and thinking for you. It’s a catch 22,” he concluded.

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