Career-best Nations Cup result for Halliday-Sharp at Ballindenisk

  • Ian James Photography Cooley 562Cooley finishes seventh after gaining USEF Land Rover Competition Grant 

Liz Halliday-Sharp notched up her personal best FEI Nations Cup result at the Ballindenisk International CICO*** event last weekend (April 12/13) after a storming performance by Cooley (HHS Cooley) helped the pair finish seventh overall. 

Although conditions underfoot were tough in Ireland, both Cooley and his United States Equestrian Federation Training Listed stablemate Blackie (Fernhill by Night) produced strong Dressage tests to head into the afternoon’s Show Jumping round on 44.7 and 44.4 respectively. But while Blackie jumped clear, Cooley was unlucky to get stuck in the mud during take-off for the second part of a double combination and consequently rolled just one pole.

Fortune would favour Cooley on Sunday however when the Grey’s assured Cross Country round saw him incur just 1.6 time penalties and finish seventh after beginning the day in 10th.

That result came hot on the heels of the USEF’s decision to award Cooley and UK-based Californian Liz a Land Rover Competition Grant for the upcoming Saumur CCI*** in France after considering his results from 2013 and strong start to this season.

Meanwhile, having initially looked good for a top five finish, Blackie and Liz’s chances were scuppered during Cross Country after they suffered a run-out at fence four’s offset angled tables.

Liz admitted to ‘pilot error’ when she allowed the rangy 17.1-hand and excited Blackie to take off on a big stride over the first table, meaning he couldn’t make the turn to the second and subsequently ran past it. Liz therefore opted to complete the course at a quieter pace to gain further experience of the challenging Irish track, which Blackie easily skipped around.

Also in three-star action was Chailey Stud stalwart Fox (Red Letter Day II) who recovered from a tricky Dressage test to finish inside the top 20 after a double clear in Show Jumping and Cross Country.

Elsewhere, Oscar (Viscount Oscar) gained his CIC** qualification after also going clear on Cross Country with just a handful of time faults en route to finishing 22nd.

Despite the obvious disappointment of Blackie’s Cross Country run-out, Halliday-Sharp was nevertheless delighted with Cooley’s performance, especially after being picked for the USEF Land Rover Competition Grant.

“It was a very strong all-round effort from Cooley this weekend,” confirmed Liz. “He did a lovely Dressage test in spite of the difficult ground and only had the one rail down during Show Jumping due to the deep and sticky conditions. He felt amazing on Cross Country, making light work of the course and really demonstrated the sort of classy horse that he is. I am so pleased to have been awarded a Land Rover Competition Grant for the Saumur CCI*** with him and we will do our best to bring home a strong result for the USA!

“It was also great to be out competing again on Foxy, who made the course feel like an easy Novice track! At 17-years-old he is such an experienced horse and truly loves the sport. We have been together nine years now and it’s such a pleasure to be still out competing with my old friend.

“I’m a bit annoyed that we didn’t have two horses finish inside the top 10 but I have to put my hand up and accept responsibility for Blackie’s run-out. He is a big striding horse with a huge jump and came out of the start box strong and keen. I just didn’t get him back enough for the first table – I don’t even think he knows that he ran out as he just blew straight past it! I’ve now decided to take him to this weekend’s Burnham Market CIC*** with the plan of focusing on technique and controls as a training run before Saumur. All the pieces are there, I just need to learn how to manage him a bit better now that he has become such a strong and forward-going horse!

“On a separate note, it was great to see Ballindenisk added to this year’s Nations Cup schedule as it’s somewhere I’ve competed at before and the organisers always put on a super event. We’ll certainly try to be back again next year and for the event this autumn.”

Liz and Blackie will be at Burnham Market’s CIC*** event this weekend as preparations continue ahead of their trip to Saumur, along with Cooley, on May 22-25.