Halliday-Sharp records first Advanced victory at Pine Top Horse Trials

• Blackie takes second victory of 2015
• Cooley also on the Advanced podium

Liz Halliday-Sharp maintained her winning start to life in America by claiming the first Advanced victory of her career at the Pine Top Horse Trials in Thompson, GA, last weekend.

The USA Nations Cup team regular, who has relocated to the States for the duration of the British winter, enjoyed a standout weekend with both of her USEF High Performance Training Listed rides, Blackie (Fernhill by Night) and Cooley (HHS Cooley).

The seven-hour drive north from their base in Ocala, FL, had little affect on Blackie who led the Advanced Test A section from start to finish courtesy of a standout Dressage test. A score of just 24.1 ensured that the total of three time penalties in an otherwise double clear Show Jumping and Cross Country performance weren’t enough to oust he and Liz from top-spot.

Interestingly, the pair’s victory came almost exactly one year on from their CIC2* win at Herdade Vale Sabroso in Portugal and just two weeks after their Combined Training Event victory in Ocala.

Cooley meanwhile couldn’t quite match his stablemate’s heroics, although second place was still a fine result in the Advanced Test B section. Lying third after Dressage, it was only an uncharacteristic Show Jumping error and resulting rail down that ultimately made the difference between winning and finishing as runners-up. Their position was undoubtedly aided by a strong Cross Country round that yielded just 2.4 points over a course that only one of 60 combinations completed under time.

“I guess the horses and I have adapted pretty well to life in America, and it’s great to be back competing over here!” explained Liz. “Blackie has been in fantastic form recently and made short work of the Cross Country course. Hardly anyone completed it inside the allotted time so picking up a couple of time penalties wasn’t an issue, especially at this early stage of the season. I was watching the clock all the way around and knew we had some breathing space anyway after his good Dressage test. He’s exactly where I want him to be right now and I’m just so pleased that he has come out fighting this year.

“I was also thrilled with Cooley. It was great to have him back at Advanced level and feeling so confident after the time off he had last year. There really wasn’t much to separate him from Blackie on Cross Country; they were both fantastic and each had 2.4 time penalties. I was also pleased with Cooley in the other two phases, although he was still feeling a bit feisty at this early stage of the year. Nevertheless, it’s great to have him back!”

Liz, Blackie and Cooley return to CIC3* action next weekend (March 6-8) at the Red Hills International Horse Trials in Tallahassee, FL.