Positive USA Nations Cup Team debut for Halliday at Boekelo

October 19th, 2013 7:28 AM | Comments Off on Positive USA Nations Cup Team debut for Halliday at Boekelo

press release

Liz Halliday and Blackie (Fernhill by Night) enjoyed an encouraging first appearance together for Team USA at the CCIO*** in Boekelo last weekend (October 10-13).

Copyright: Herbert Driesen

Copyright: Herbert Driesen

While the British-based Californian was making her fourth outing at the Dutch venue, this was undoubtedly the biggest test of Blackie’s Eventing career to date. Fortunately he coped admirably with not only the CCI*** standard but also the tricky conditions that would catch out many more experienced horses during the weekend.

Despite this being their first time on a Nations Cup Team, Liz and Blackie were the first of the US squad’s pairings to complete Dressage on Thursday. And while an early mistake in the test may have accounted for some of the final score, Liz was not alone in feeling the judges had perhaps been overly harsh with 51.8 points.

Heavy rain throughout Friday ensured the Cross Country test would prove especially tricky, but Blackie coped very well with the slippery conditions underfoot to charge around the first three-quarters of the course with ease. With only a handful of fences remaining, however, he slipped coming down a steep hill to a tricky narrow fence, which due to his inexperience unfortunately resulted in a run-out. Liz was of course hugely disappointed to let the team down with the 20 penalties, but at the same time was thrilled with how Blackie had attacked the rest of the course, and felt he had shown huge talent for the future.

Sunday’s Show Jumping test was again made more challenging by the wet and muddy going, but Blackie tried as hard as ever and jumped a super round, just rolling one pole with his toe at the fourth fence. Nevertheless, Halliday was still very pleased with the overall performance in his first CCI***.

“It was a big challenge for him this weekend, but to be honest I’m very impressed with how he took it all on,” she said. “Yes, there were some mistakes and areas that need polishing up, but we now know what to work on over the winter in order to be better prepared for the start of next year. Crucially, I really feel this event has proven to me what a top-class horse he is. The Cross Country course took its toll on a lot of very experienced horses and aside from the unfortunate run-out that we had near the end, he found it all pretty easy out there! If we can address the training issues that need improving then we’ll be in a very strong position moving forward. I really hope that the US team sees potential in him like I do.”

While Blackie’s season came to a close at Boekelo, Chailey Stud stable-mate Cooley (HHS Cooley) has one final International competition to attend: this Sunday he heads to California in time for the Galway Downs International 3-Day Event taking place on October 31-November 3. While Cooley will be taking on his first CCI*** out there, it’s also a chance for Liz to see friends and family as the venue lies just 20 minutes from where she grew up.

“I last rode at Galway Downs when I was 18 or 19 and haven’t competed in the States at all since 1999!” explained Liz. “It wasn’t something I had considered until quite a few of the Americans started encouraging me to go for it while we were out in Boekelo. I have been lucky enough to find the help and support to be able to make it work, so why not? Cooley is feeling fit and well and ready for a CCI, so even though it’s perhaps a long way to go for the final event of the year it will be a great opportunity to compete again in the USA and to see how we stack up. It will also be amazing to have support from my friends and family so close to home, and of course I’m looking forward to the event itself, which attracts riders from the East and West coasts, and should be a competitive field. I’m sure that Cooley will bring his best, so hopefully we can finish the season on a high!”

Check out www.eventingnation.com and search ‘Boekelo CCI***’ for videos, interviews and photos of Liz and her team-mates from the event.

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