Aiken, S.C.—March 1
Phase 1 of the $50,000 LiftMaster Grand-Prix Eventing Invitational is officially complete with the U.S.’s Liz Halliday-Sharp and Fernhill By Night leading the way on a dressage score of 28.7. Riders will have a couple hours before getting underway with show jumping at 4 p.m. (you can watch the livestream of the event here).
“ ‘Blackie’s’ kind of a special one; he’s the world’s laziest event horse, so I literally think I did 10 minutes of warm-up [before dressage],” Halliday-Sharp said with a laugh.
While Halliday-Sharp is happy to be sitting at the top of the leaderboard she recognizes the event is far from over.
“I don’t think this is going to be a dressage competition; I haven’t walked the cross-country totally yet, but what I’ve seen looks intense,” Halliday-Sharp said. “It looks up to height and proper, so I think it’s going to be a real go-kart race around there; we’re going to be going with our hair on fire.”
Halliday-Sharp appreciates the format of this inaugural event for a horse like Blackie—it’s run like an eventing showcase over a shortened cross-country course with lots of the obstacles in arenas and fields around the main spectator seating areas.
“This sort of thing gives eventing a bit of a show and gives everyone the chance to enjoy it, drink a glass of champagne, and get to see all the phases from the tent,” Halliday-Sharp said. “I think the sport needs a few more of these around to freshen up the sport and give us a chance to win some more money and give the owners and sponsors a chance to see an event better. I think it’s brilliant.
“And you know what else it gives horses like Blackie another outlet, because he’s not going to do another long format [event],” Halliday-Sharp continued. “It gives them a sort of special thing they can go and try and win.”
Boyd Martin sits in second behind Halliday-Sharp aboard his 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games (North Carolina) mount Tsetserleg. Martin is the busiest rider of the day with three mounts, all three of which he managed to get in the top 12 (Kyra sits tied for 10th on a 32.7, Ray Price is 12th on 33.1.
The action is just getting underway in Aiken, check back for more updates from the $50,000 LiftMaster Grand-Prix Eventing Invitational! Show jumping begins at 4 p.m., cross country goes Saturday afternoon.
You can watch the livestream, here.