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Liz Halliday-Sharp: “There’s nothing more that I want right now than to go to Tokyo”

Liz Halliday-Sharp has been feeling anxious about the Olympic selection process since her top-ten finish at last month’s Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event riding Deniro Z.

“I feel like I’ve tried so hard, especially all of last year, to prove to the selectors that I’m the one they should take. I know the cross country round I put in at Kentucky is one that shows I can perform under pressure. There’s nothing more that I want right now than to go to Tokyo, so I’m just hanging out waiting and that’s tough!” said the American three-day eventer.

“Once we knew things were what they were last year, I figured I‘d put my head down and do everything I could to show the selectors what I could do. I think it was the right thing to do to just charge on last year: consistency is important, that doesn’t change in a COVID year, you just keep trying to put in the best performances possible.”

On Saturday at Jersey Fresh International Three-Day Event, the final selection trials for the Tokyo Olympic Team, she delivered both—consistency and a top performance. Halliday-Sharp won the CCI4*-S, or short-format division, riding Cooley Moonshine, a nine-year-old Irish Sport Horse that she’s been developing since he was five years old. The pair added just 7.2 penalty points to their dressage score on cross country to finish on 32.8 pp, one point ahead of Olympic veteran Boyd Martin (USA) and Long Island T (33.8 pp).

Now she can only wait and hope it’s enough to put her on the list for Tokyo… under the new format only three riders and one reserve will be named to the US Eventing team for the Olympic Games. And there’s stiff competition to come.

All four international divisions contested the cross country course at Jersey Fresh on Saturday.

Tamie Smith of Temecula, CA maintained both first and second place in the CCI4*-L, though her two horses swapped placings with En Vogue now in first and her stablemate Danito in second place. She explained that Danito is less experienced, so she rode him a little more slowly around the challenging course and added a few more time penalties to his score.

“When I got through the angled brushes, the first challenging combination on course, then I opened him up a bit, but I took some time at the double corners. That was also a tough combination, on a downhill slope, and I think the more experienced horses were reading it well but the greener ones didn’t know what to do. After that I let him go and he felt awesome.”

Smith also holds the lead in the CCI3*-L riding Solaguayre California.

Martin, of Cochranville, PA maintained third place with Luke 140 with a clear round and 6.4 time penalties. There were 55 entries in the CCI4*-L division and only 44 combinations will continue on to show jumping on Sunday.

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Feature image:  USA’s Liz Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Moonshine. ©Amber Heintzberger Photo

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