- Hickstead Eventing Grand Prix debut caps impressive week for Chailey Stud Equestrian Centre
Liz Halliday produced a stunning performance aboard Cooley (HHS Cooley) to record her maiden CIC* International victory during last weekend’s Brightling Park International Horse Trials.
Having entered their first Novice level event at the same venue only 12 months ago, the subsequent hard work of Halliday and Chailey Stud Equestrian Centre was clear for all to see on Sunday when Cooley finished on his Dressage score in the hotly contested class.
Despite Britain’s recent spate of poor weather, the organisers had worked miracles to stage an event that nevertheless featured extremely heavy conditions under foot.
That sort of ground would not have ordinarily suited Cooley who, to his credit, produced an incredibly strong Dressage test that put the pair firmly in contention heading into the jumping tests.
If the Show Jumping arena would provide a better examination of Cooley’s ability over the trying conditions then he passed with flying colours, moving up to second overall thanks to a faultless clear round.
That set up a dramatic final battle against Anna Walby, Sam Jennings and former Olympic and World Champion Blyth Tate, whose subsequent clear Cross Country round demanded nothing short of perfection from Liz and Cooley.
“I knew that the heavy ground wasn’t going to suit Cooley, but as he had already performed so well in the Show Jumping I thought we might have a chance,” said Halliday. “I was trailing Anna and our advantage over Blyth was only 1.6 points before the start so there wasn’t much margin for error. Cooley was fantastic all day and he tried his heart out on the Cross Country. Despite the ground, he kept improving all the way around and we came across the line absolutely on the optimum time. It was a great team effort. On a personal level, and on behalf of everyone at Chailey Stud, I am delighted to have recorded my first international victory.”
Cooley is now planning to make his Intermediate debut during the upcoming event at Aston-Le-Walls on August 9-11.
Meanwhile, Liz was this week invited to compete at the prestigious Hickstead Eventing Grand Prix. Just 30-minutes drive from Chailey Stud, its unusual mix of a combined Show Jumping and Cross Country course against the clock offered her and Fox (Red Letter Day II) the chance to test themselves against some of the world’s very best.
“It was awesome to be asked to compete at Hickstead which, as competitions go, is pretty crazy!” added Liz. “The combined course at Hickstead is not something that Fox and I have had much experience with before but he tried hard, we had a good round and I was really pleased with him. It’s all about getting around as fast as possible and now that we’ve done it there are certainly a few places where I know we could find more time. I’d be thrilled to do it again next year and I am confident that we would be very competitive.”