Rain soaked the area on Saturday for the cross country phase of competition in the FEI divisions Stable View in Aiken, South Carolina, but it couldn’t deter eventual CCI4*-S winner Liz Halliday-Sharp from delivering a foot-perfect ride aboard The Monster Partnership’s Cooley Quicksilver (Womanizer – Kylemore Crystal, by Creggan Diamond). The pair finished with just four seconds of time over the optimum of 6 minutes, 14 seconds – enough to clinch the win on a final score of 25.5. This is Halliday-Sharp’s second CCI4* win of the 2023 season.
“I actually had a different bit on him than I haven’t used before,” Halliday-Sharp said of her ride today. “I think he was good in that. I’m just kind of always trying to fine tune the right on him. But he’s very consistent. Of course, he knows his job and he enjoys it. He’s a fighter. He likes being sort of ridden with a bit of pressure – that has always suited his brain. I think he had a good time today, and some of the distances were pretty long but he’s not a horse that over jumps anything. He kind of never lands far off the jump. So I definitely needed to commit to the distance. But he was a good boy and he fought for me the whole way.”
Known as a quirky, cheeky fellow in the barn, “Monster” has been with Halliday-Sharp since he was sourced in Ireland by Cooley Farm’s Richard Sheane. A very green 5-year-old when first acquired, Halliday-Sharp affectionately refers to the gelding as “an overcooked noodle” who “didn’t even know how to turn right” when she first started her partnership with him. He has enjoyed many competitive successes as his career flourishes, including a third place at Luhmühlen in 2022.
Halliday-Sharp used this weekend as a next step in her preparation to return to the Longines Luhmühlen CCI5* in Germany in June. Before that, she’ll stop at the Lexington CCI4*-S at the end of April with the 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding.
Moving up to take second overall in the CCI4*-S are Will Coleman with the Off the Record Syndicate’s Off the Record (VDL Arkansas – Drumagoland Bay), who came home as the only pair to make the optimum time and add no penalties to their finishing score. Their final score of 27.0 elevated them from third into second, over 10 penalty points ahead of third place.
Coleman stated that he felt the 14-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding was “smiling from ear to ear” on cross country today, having missed his last planned run at Carolina International. “He just honestly just skipped right around,” he said. “Maybe a couple of times he was a little almost over-exuberant. But he was just class. I mean, I think he got the time and I was slowing down at the end. He just flew around. I was really, really happy.”
This will be Off the Record’s final preparation event for the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI5*. “He’s pretty experienced now and I think we’ll just go home and I’ve just got a few good gallops left but no, no outings. I think just now just let him rest up and get fresh for Kentucky.”
Taking a “quantum leap” up the board after starting the weekend in 15th are Doug Payne with Quantum Leap (Quite Capitol – Report to Sloopy, by Corporate Report), owned by Doug and Jessica Payne. Thanks to a quick turn of foot that produced just 3.2 time penalties, Payne and Quantum Leap ended their weekend in third overall on a final score of 37.1. This will serve as the 12-year-old DSP gelding’s final preparation for the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI5*.
“Unfortunately, it wasn’t really reflected in his dressage score, but it was probably the most quiet and settled he’s ever been so that was extremely exciting for me. His jumping has been quite good and reliable, so this was a fun one to go out on even with the conditions — this place, the wetter it is the better the ground.”
Payne expressed his appreciation for the robust purse available to riders in the CCI4*-S, with the top-placed rider taking nearly a third of the $30,000 purse. “I think the prize money is important too. I’ve got to commend Stable View because for these top [horses], in all honesty — they’re quite expensive, and we own a share of almost all these guys, so it helps to keep everything rolling when he have that support.”
Capt. Mark Phillips’ cross country track caused few problems, though two right handed corners, at fence 12 and fence 15, elicited a few runouts for some pairs. Will Coleman was the sole rider to catch the optimum time.
Taking the victory in the CCI3*-S after cross country is Will Coleman with Reagan Lafleur’s Larcot Z (L’Arc de Triomphe – Kocote de la Londe, by Socrate de Chivre), who added 8 time penalties for a final score of 38.5. The ride on the French-bred gelding was given to Coleman for the spring campaign.
“He was bought and picked out by Reagan Lafleur, who’s from Louisiana,” Coleman elaborated. “She rode with us for just over a year, I think, but she got a job at a very prestigious law firm. And so now she’s doing kind of the full-fledged professional routine and she gave a horse to me to continue to campaign.”
“He’s a really attractive horse – a real blood type and a great jumper. He still kind of just needs some development, but I think he has a bright future. And I’m very thankful to the Lefleur family for keeping him with us.” Coleman says the 10-year-old gelding will aim for a spring CCI3*-L, though the destination is yet to be finalized.
Riding in the CCI3*-S, Jennifer Saville earned the Harmony Chiropractic Best Save Award for her efforts to save herself from falling after losing her seat aboard Kismet over the A element of Fence 18, the Stable View Brush. She also takes home the weekend’s award for Trainer and Rider with the Most Horses, sponsored by Engineered Equine Performance.
Ariel Grald was victorious in the CCI2* with the 7-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare In Vogue (Future Trend – Ballymolly Hollyhock, by Lester Lad), ending the weekend on a final score of 24.8 and adding no penalties to her dressage score over all three phases.
Grald rides In Vogue for one of her best friends, Claire Williams, who was injured in a skiing accident over the winter and subsequently handed over the reins full-time while she recovers. “We bought her during COVID as a four-year-old, from Ireland videos, through Anna Calder whose been a sales agent I’ve bought most of my Irish horses from,” Grald smiled. “We bought the horse for Claire and we’ve sort of shared the ride since she has a busy ‘real person’ job. So I take her for a little while and then Claire rides her a little bit. Unfortunately Claire got hurt skiing this winter, so I have the horse for a bit and I’ve been riding her all winter. And she’s just a really, really cool, man. The more you do it, or the more she sort of steps up, she’s actually getting quite hungry to go do the job and she’s just getting better and better. So I’m actually really excited about her.”
The footing held up beautifully all day despite steady downpours throughout each division. Grald said the rain didn’t alter her plans in the least – she’d planned to go out and be competitive if she could. “She was a good Irish horse today, just charged right through.” The goal now is to prepare In Vogue for the June CCI2*-L at Bromont in Quebec.
In an unfortunate incident, Bold Tiger, ridden by Dr. Nikki Scherrer, DVM and owned by Jill Tallman, was humanely euthanized as a result of an accident during the CCI2*-S cross-country. The horse was taken to the Athens Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory for necropsy examination. The rider was transported to the hospital for further examination, out of an abundance of caution, but no major injuries were sustained.
Final scores here.