Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp and Fernhill By Night. ©Shannon Brinkman Photography.
Tryon, NC – April 5, 2019 – Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp (USA) topped the leaderboard placing first and second in CCI 4*-S Dressage competition at The Fork at TIEC presented by Lucky Clays Farm at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC). For the first-place position, Halliday-Sharp earned a score of 24.80 with Fernhill By Night, and secured second with a score of 30.10 astride Deniro Z. Tied for third place, Boyd Martin (USA) put in a score of 30.20 aboard Tsetserleg, and Felix Vogg (SUI) achieved the same score riding Colero.
About her test in tandem with Fernhill By Night, a 2003 Irish Sport Horse gelding (Radolin x Argentinus) owned by Deborah Halliday, Halliday-Sharp stated, “I have to say, I think that’s the best test Blackie [Fernhill By Night] has ever done in his whole life, actually. I was totally over-the-moon thrilled with him.”
“It was probably the first time that I haven’t had to work really hard in the canter – I’ve been able to just sit there and feel like I have the hind legs and just enjoy it, and just put him through the movements he does so well,” she revealed. “I think the score reflected that. I was hoping when I came out of the ring that score would be sub-25 and I don’t always think that. I really felt the horse couldn’t have given me more today, so I’m really pleased with him. He was a good boy,” she commented.
Recalling her second-place test, Halliday-Sharp said, “I think Deniro did a lot of great work. His first halt was off, but the other two were very good, so that’s been an improvement from Carolina.”
Halliday-Sharp continued, “The lead change is a work in progress, like it always has been. I think he easily would’ve been in the 20s without two very low marks. I actually sort of thought he would have been in the 20s anyway because the rest of his work was really, really nice, and had a lot of flow, and I actually thought it was a better test than at Carolina, but different judges see different things,” she analyzed.
While Deniro Z is being aimed at competition in Kentucky and is focusing on rideability in the remaining phases, for Fernhill By Night, Halliday-Sharp explained that her strategy is to go for the win. “He’s 16 now and doesn’t run a lot, so we’ll give it my best shot. I think it’s a strong Cross-Country from what I’ve seen. I think he’s up to it, and feeling the best he’s ever felt in his life, so we will try and jump clear on both days and keep kicking,” she continued.
On the course, Halliday-Sharp said, “I think it’s up to height and substantial, and there are some big questions. I think there’s a lot to jump and I’m guessing the time will be tight enough because there’s quite a few questions that need a little bit of respect. It was pretty tight last year, as well. Obviously, on the undulating ground it does make the time add up, but I think this rain today will make the ground pretty good. It’s always a big atmosphere in this ring to show jump as well, so we’ll just go in and do our best, really.”
Tied in third, Martin (USA) remarked of Tsetserleg, a 2007 Trakehner gelding (Windfall x Buddenbrock) owned by Christine Turner. “The test was pretty good. It doesn’t suit my horse that much, but to be honest it’s great to be able to get in here in this stadium. Like I said yesterday, it’s a wonderful preparation for Kentucky because the horses do get nervous in a bit of atmosphere and practice going down the center line.”
Martin said he was pleased with the performance considering how much time his mount has had to practice it, too. “I think my guy’s in good shape. He’s working well, and there’s just a couple little technical things we messed up, which I’m not too worried about because I haven’t really been focusing on this test at all. I just learned it yesterday, but I think we’re in good shape to put in a smoking hot test come Kentucky.”
On preparation for the Cross-Country course, Martin remarked, “Everyone is having a laugh at me this weekend with Tsetserleg and saying, ‘How are you going to ride that water jump?’ And I simply say I’m going to completely do everything I didn’t do last time!
“In all seriousness, it’s a great track. When you ride in a championship or a big-time international event it’s so exact and precise on your lines. It’s a world championship fence [the WEG water jump] that caught some of the best in the world out, so it’s a great opportunity for these horses to ride around a true international track,” he concluded.
Also sitting in third with an identical score, Vogg (SUI) with his own mount, Colero, a 2008 Westphalian gelding (Captain Fire x Bormio XX), admitted that he is looking forward to showcasing Colero’s strengths in the remaining phases since he was more comfortable in the warm-up than in test itself. “I think he has good Dressage form [despite some mistakes] because he’s doing so much fitness work for Kentucky,” he stated.
“I hope his [Cross-Country] score turns out good. I am trying to get him as prepared as I can for Kentucky, and I think it is good to ride a course like this. There’s not as many turns [on the course], but there are a lot of questions, so you have to be quick in the head, and the horse has to be quick in the head, and you don’t get a long break in between each, so it’s good,” Vogg explained. “I will ride to give him a good feel that it’s all getting done as it should be done.”
In the CCI 2*-S Division, Hannah Sue Burnett rode to the top with Carsonstown earning a score of 32.00, while Ryan Wood placed second with Ruby with a score of 33.00. Doug Payne took third with Baymax with a score of 33.20.
Click here to follow along with live results from The Fork at TIEC.