Promising international performances cap 2014 eventing season for Halliday-Sharp

  • Strong showings from two Cooley horses
  • Busy end to the season ahead of major winter plans

Liz Halliday-Sharp brought the curtain down on her eventing season this month with strong showings from two highly promising horses.

Outings at home and abroad capped a hectic conclusion to the 2014 calendar which has seen Liz appear at no less than five events during October. After competing at Osberton, Little Downham and then Boekelo in the Netherlands, she and Chailey Stud Equestrian Centre Head Groom Gemma Jelinska next headed to France’s Mondial du Lion for the Young Horse World Championships (16-19 October) where Chaco (Cooley Ground Control) contested the 6-Year-Old category.

His presence at Lion represented a significant achievement in itself and provided Chaco with the opportunity to demonstrate his capabilities against the world’s best six-year-old horses.

“This was a big deal for us,” confirmed Liz. “Lion is a major event and tricky to simply qualify for. We have worked hard this year and I was proud to be there with Chaco as the USA’s only representative.”

Unfortunately things did not run to plan on the opening day when Chaco and Liz recorded an unusually low Dressage score. It has been one of his best phases throughout the season, but a daunting and oppressive atmosphere in the main arena conspired to affect his performance on this occasion. Combined with a very tough standard of judging, this resulted in an unrepresentatively low score.

“Naturally I was disappointed with how things panned out in the Dressage,” Liz reflected. “Chaco is a beautiful horse who always shows well in this phase, so to score as poorly as we did is tough. However, given how tight and close the arena was, not to mention the crowds and big screens, it’s natural that some young horses found it difficult to keep their concentration in the ring. On this occasion he was one of those, sadly.”

Chaco more than made amends for this by delivering an excellent Cross Country performance, jumping a fantastic clear round on the long nine-minute course. Once again the vast crowds made for an intimidating atmosphere, which accounted for a slower-than-usual performance that earned the pair six time faults, but his jumping was nevertheless precise and brave.

On the final day Chaco demonstrated his growing maturity with a strong Show Jumping round. Though disappointed to have an uncharacteristic two rails down, Liz acknowledged that this was due to her not giving the horse the best ride to the fences, and ended the event happy with Chaco’s jumping performance.

“The most pleasing thing is that he had learned to cope with the atmosphere by the third day, and it’s just a shame that I didn’t give him a very good ride to those fences.” said Liz. “He still had a good jump on the last day and showed that he is a world-class horse who belongs in this type of competition; he just needs to have a break now and grow up a bit more. Chaco is a very special prospect, a real star in the making, and I’m sure Lion has taught him a great deal.”

Just a few days later Liz was back on British soil to complete her season at the Aldon International Horse Trials where the fast-maturing Swift (Cooley Elusive) gave a very pleasing CIC1* performance.

The seven-year-old produced an excellent Dressage test, notching a score of 45 to sit fourth in a competitive class of more than 50 following the opening phase.

Swift then went clear in the Show Jumping and was again strong in the Cross Country. Six time faults in the final phase saw the pair finish 10th overall, a satisfying display from a horse Liz has high hopes for.

“It was good to finish the season on a positive note at Aldon. Swift has been improving throughout the year,” explained Liz. “His Dressage score was good and he gets better all the time in that phase. I was also very happy with how he went in the Show Jumping and Cross Country. He is a big, strong horse to hang on to and I don’t think we have quite found the right breaks yet, but once we do he will be consistently inside the time as he can certainly jump and gallop!

“Like Chaco, I have a great deal of faith in Swift and his prospects for the future, so it’s pleasing to see him maturing with each event.”

Though Liz’s eventing season has now concluded she remains hard at work as plans continue to develop for a major winter undertaking. Further details of this exciting new project will be revealed in the coming weeks.