More shake up on the U.S. Olympic Eventing team.

Following the substitution of Boyd Martin’s Luke 140 for Tsetserleg and just when it looked like Team USA would get to their European quarantine base without drama, disaster has struck for Liz Halliday-Sharp.

At the final inspection before the horses boarded the plane, a problem with her mount Deniro Z was detected and the horse has been withdrawn from participation in Tokyo. It’s a blow for the Americans as the horse is well known for his particularly outstanding dressage, a phase in which the USA is weak in comparison to some of the other nations. The pair were tenth at Kentucky CCI5* earlier this year, completed in 15th place at the last running of CCI5* Burghley and were the 2020 U.S. Eventing Association’s Rider of the Year.

Halliday-Sharp produced Deniro Z and of their 33 international starts in the U.S. and Europe, they have won nine. The Californian-born rider, now based in Lexington, Kentucky, would have been an Olympic debutant, but she is no stranger to elite competition. She previously competed in motor racing, in addition to eventing, and is one of the few women to complete the famous Le Mans 24 Hour race in France.

Halliday-Sharp issued the following statement via social media:

“It is with a very heavy heart that I must announce that Deniro Z and I will not be making the trip to the Olympic Games in Tokyo

“Deniro has always been such a fighter for me, and has continued to feel excellent in his training, but I know him so well and after the mandatory outing at Great Meadow we were concerned that he was not completely right. With support from the excellent USA Team vets and farriers, we ultimately determined that he has some bone bruising and it will not be in his best interest to be put under the pressure of the Olympic Games.

“While I am completely devastated to not get the chance to represent my country in Tokyo this year, Deniro is my friend and my partner above all else, and it would not be fair to put him under this sort of pressure if he is not 100%. We feel confident that Deniro will be back in fighting form after a period of rest and rehab and we are already looking ahead to WEG 2022 and beyond with this very special horse, but sadly timing was not on our side on this occasion

“My heart goes out my wonderful owners, Rob Desino and Chris Desino of Ocala Horse Properties who have supported me and Deniro through all the ups and downs, to my incredible groom Claire Tisckos who has always put Deniro first, to all of my excellent sponsors who have gone above and beyond for the team, and especially my amazing family and friends who have ridden this wave with me for so many years and have always had my back. I must also say a special thank you to the wonderful team of vets, physios, trainers, grooms, and farriers that have helped us to reach this goal and have never given up the fight.

“My heart is breaking today, but at the end of it all we have a happy horse for another day, which is the most important thing. I wish all of Team USA the best of luck in Tokyo and I will be cheering loudly from home #keepfighting. “

Doug Payne and Vandiver now move into a team spot, joining Phillip Dutton and Boyd Martin. Tamra Smith and Mai Baum, a 15-year-old German Sport Horse gelding, are now traveling reserve position.