Friday, May. 24, 2024

An Old Man, A Bad Ass And A Catch Ride Go One-Two-Three In $50,000 LiftMaster Grand-Prix Eventing Invitational



Aiken, S.C.—March 2

Each of the top three horses at the $50,000 LiftMaster Grand-Prix Eventing Invitational had something different going for them. For winners Liz Halliday-Sharp and Fernhill By Night, it’s a long time partnership with her “old man” of a horse that carried them to the top of all three phases and the overall win in the inaugural event.

“He was magic,” Halliday-Sharp said. “I’m so proud of him; the horse felt incredible. He hasn’t had a run this year, but he knows his job, and he just fought for me the whole way. I just couldn’t be more pleased with him.”


Liz Halliday-Sharp and her “old man” Fernhill By Night. Ann Glavan Photo

Halliday-Sharp had been a bit worried about having enough in the tank to tackle Capt. Mark Phillips twisting and turning cross-country course with the 16-year-old gelding, but “Blackie” powered through for her.

“I loved how he just operated off the turns for me; he can be a bit slow in his mind sometimes, but today he was fully on it in every way,” Halliday-Sharp said. “The horse was class; every fence was spot on, and he felt like the pro he is. He deserves this as much as I do and the team does.”


Liz Halliday-Sharp and Fernhill By Night. Ann Glavan Photo

It’s the first year Bruce’s Field has hosted an eventing showcase, and the giant checks divvying up the $50,000 in prize money put a smile on everyone’s face at the end of the day.

“I think it’s fantastic, what a brilliant event; I think we need more of it in our sport,” Halliday-Sharp said. “Especially for the old boys like Blackie, so he can come out and be a winner and not have to run really long distances anymore, and it was so great to have such a big crowd, it was awesome.”


Taking second to Halliday-Sharp was Doug Payne on Vandiver, a horse he describes as a “bad ass.”

“He’s a pretty special horse really; he makes easy work of it, and honestly it’s just a hell of a lot of fun,” Payne said.


Doug Payne and Vandiver. Ann Glavan Photo

There was some concern that because of the way the track was designed to be in sight of the spectators, it made for a really winding course without a lot of places to find a rhythm, but the twisting and turning agreed with Payne.

“I think Mark [Phillips] did a great job. Walking it it seems pretty twisty and turny, but it was actually pretty smooth and flowed well,” Payne said. “It was very good for the horses.”

William Fox-Pitt picked up third place on a catch ride, Chris Talley’s horse Sandro’s Star.

“We jumped the jumps; it wasn’t always pretty but it worked, and I think the poor horse had to put up with quite a bit of shock,” Fox-Pitt said. “With a different rider and charging around all these fences, it was a bit of a wake-up call, but he was a lovely horse wasn’t he? He did the job well, and I’m not the quickest rider, so I was quite surprised that I ended up being quite quick.”


William Fox-Pitt and Sandro’s Star. Ann Glavan Photo

Of the 34 horse and rider pairs who started the competition only 19 opted to run cross-country, with Nilson da Silva retiring with Muggle. There was only one stop on course for the day and no horse or rider falls. Click here for full results.


Boyd Martin and Kyra took fourth. Ann Glavan Photo


Allie Knowles and Sound Prospect took fifth. Ann Glavan Photo




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