Professional dual-sportswoman Liz Halliday enjoyed a fantastic eventing weekend (16-18 August) representing the USA when she contested the prestigious World Equestrian Games Test Event at Haras du Pin in France. Held as part of preparations for next year's Games, the Test Event was run to similar regulations and made use of the Lower Normandy-based venue and facilities that will be employed for the 2014 championships.
This even extended to travel arrangements, with a police escort leading a convoy of competitors on the 90-minute road journey to Caen for the Show Jumping, as is planned for next year’s Games. Liz was thrilled to be selected to represent the USA at the event and entrusted Cooley (HHS Cooley) to compete following a string of impressive performances from the pair so far in 2013.
Facing the same highly stringent judging panel that will be in place next year, Cooley produced a strong Dressage performance to sit 13th among a competitive and experienced 44-strong field, though it was felt that he perhaps deserved a higher score for his efforts. Nevertheless his tidy and composed test left Liz very pleased with the showing in this competitive class.
A tight and twisty Cross Country circuit characterised by significant undulation would prove a challenging subsequent test, but Cooley ran well and gave his all around the CCI** course, jumping clear and incurring just 2.8 time faults to add to the Dressage score.
The next day's Show Jumping was held in Caen at a venue just five minutes from the proposed 2014 site. The course was built in a tight sand arena where Cooley jumped a superb clear round, one of only 11 horses in the class to do so. Despite two time faults, this capped an excellent performance that saw the pair finish in a thoroughly satisfying 12th position.
Cooley's next outing will see him step up a level when he contests his first CIC*** event at Blenheim Palace next month (12-15 September). Another horse from the Chailey Stud stable is also due to progress, as Blackie (Fernhill By Night) takes on his first Advanced event at the Wellington horse trials in a week's time (25-28 August).
Liz Halliday: “I was so pleased to be given the opportunity to represent my country on the international stage and am thrilled with how the event went. Cooley really rose to the occasion and performed brilliantly. I'm very proud of him and I'm sure there's more to come as he makes the step up to CIC***.
“I think we all believed the judging to have been very tough in the Dressage where I felt that Cooley’s score didn’t fully reflect his performance. But I’m still pleased with our end result – placing among the top third at such a competitive event is a great achievement.
“As ever we’re still very busy at home, with more outings coming up for Cooley, Blackie and a number of other horses, so we’ll look to carry this momentum forward for the rest of the season.
“I would like to thank all of the USA representatives that came to France and offered support and help during the Test Event and I hope that I did them proud! I would also like to thank my sponsors Cyclo-ssage, Voltaire Design Saddles and Liston Equestrian for helping Cooley to look and perform so well.”