Rolex Kentucky commentary to cap busy Easter eventing schedule for Halliday-Sharp

  • 1429031-ghbe1-14-02716j LHS 562Strong British Eventing outings at Burnham Market International and Milton Keynes
  • Liz set for Rolex Kentucky commentary this weekend 

Fresh from her FEI Nations Cup exploits in Ballindenisk, Liz Halliday-Sharp returned to British Eventing action this past week with hugely encouraging performances at Burnham Market International and Milton Keynes. 

A whirlwind schedule ensured she wouldn’t be home for long though after planning to visit, and now also commentate on, America’s only four-star competition – The Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event – this weekend.

The USA rider hadn’t long returned from Ireland before entering the CIC3* competition at Burnham Market International (April 17) with Blackie (Fernhill by Night), one of Chailey Stud’s two USEF High Performance Training Listed horses.

An exceptional entry featuring several Olympians and Badminton-bound horses suggested this would be one of Blackie’s sternest tests to date, but he soon proved his worth in such company as one of just six horses to dip below a score of 40 in the Dressage. An effortless clear Show Jumping round emphasised the point further, and with only Cross Country remaining the pair found themselves an excellent fourth overall.

However, the allure of recording a strong international three-star result was never going to outweigh risking Blackie over what was very firm ground under foot, which prompted Liz – along with many other top riders – to withdraw before the last phase.

Nevertheless, that disappointment couldn’t detract from what had been a hugely encouraging performance.

“I was absolutely delighted with Blackie against a top class field at Burnham,” beamed Liz. “He was excellent all day and really showed what he’s capable of at this level. It was frustrating not being able to finish the job on Cross Country, as getting some practice in was one of my primary reasons for attending, but the ground was just too hard to risk it, especially with some important competitions coming up. The main thing is we were right in the mix, which bodes very well for the future. I am just trying to stay focused on the big picture now.”

The following Wednesday (April 22) Liz travelled to Milton Keynes where two of Chailey Stud’s up-and-coming horses, Chaco (Cooley Ground Control) and Courage (Cooley Master Courage), were in Novice and BE100 action, respectively.

A strong start to the year had seen Chaco secure a victory and two runners-up results in his previous three events, and that good form would continue at Milton Keynes. The six-year-old recorded an impressive Dressage score of just 29.5 and a textbook Show Jumping round, before a confident clear Cross Country run featuring just a few time faults ultimately dropped him back to sixth in section.

Meanwhile, Courage made the perfect start to his 2014 programme by leading his BE100 section after Dressage and retaining that advantage thanks to a fault-free Show Jumping performance. But just like Chaco time penalties incurred during Cross Country would ultimately see him finish a still very respectable seventh.

“Both Chaco and Courage jumped very well at Milton Keynes,” Liz continued. “I was especially pleased with Courage’s performance as it was his first outing this year. Both would have had a chance of winning without their Cross Country time penalties, but they are young horses and the time was very tight so I am actually quite pleased with where they are at this stage of their training.”

Although Liz won’t be personally competing this weekend, she will be attending the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event as both a supporter and guest commentator for the FEI and USEF Network’s live online streams, some of which should also be used by national US broadcaster, NBC.

“This will be my first time in Kentucky since 1998, and although I’d like to be competing it will be a good opportunity to see how the course has changed ahead of hopefully making the trip with a horse next year,” added Liz. “It will also be good to help with the commentary during the Dressage and Show Jumping phases. In fact, that means I will have commentated on my two professions’ biggest events, having been part of Eurosport’s Le Mans 24 Hours coverage for the past six years.”

Live commentary featuring Liz’s analysis of Friday’s Dressage and Sunday’s Show Jumping can be found on www.feitv.org and www.usefnetwork.com, as well as NBC’s TV highlights package.

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