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Halliday’s California homecoming sees HHS Cooley finish third in CCI***

November 11, 2013 By: janwest Category: General

The event provided an emotional homecoming for Halliday, who grew up just 30 minutes from Galway Downs where she trained and competed as a teenager.  


The English-based American’s decision to travel 5,400 miles across the Atlantic from her Chailey Stud base in East Sussex would be fully justified come Sunday when a clear Show Jumping round helped Cooley take a podium finish that not only qualifies him for four-star level competition but also potential selection to the US team ahead of next year’s World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France.


The pair made a solid start to their first competition on American soil during Friday’s Dressage test by scoring 56 points, leaving them eighth overall. It would be their lowest position of the weekend however, with Cooley significantly upping the ante around the Cross Country course to come home with just 5.6 time penalties on the clock.

Copyright: John Waugh Photography

Liz Halliday and Cooley’s (HHS Cooley) end-of-season equestrian adventure to the United States paid off spectacularly last weekend when the pair finished third at the prestigious Galway Downs International CCI*** Event in southern California.
Copyright: John Waugh Photography


That was good enough to leave the duo fourth ahead of their Show Jumping round on Sunday. Always a strong jumper, Cooley underlined his class with a faultless performance over the fences – one of only three horses to do so on the day – to make third place his own in the final standings and finish just 2.4 marks shy of the winner.  


“It was an incredible week in California and amazing to receive so much support from my friends and family,” reflected Liz. “It was obviously a big gamble to travel all the way to the States to get the qualification and show what we can do, but I just tried to focus on the job and thankfully we came away with a positive result. Cooley was awesome throughout the whole event and especially stepped it up in the jumping phases. He’s taken some big strides forward this year and I’m just grateful that everything came together at Galway Downs.


“I really believed that Cooley was ready for a CCI*** this year, and wanted to start next season with that qualification already in the bag if I could make it work. It was also a great chance to show the selectors what sort of horse he is and that he could cope well with the big trip, which has been a useful learning curve for him. I think that after this experience he will grow up a lot as a horse and hopefully be even stronger and better next season. The only part of the week that I was disappointed with really was our Dressage score, which was nowhere near what I had hoped to get out there. But the judging was tough and, at the same time, we have some things to work on over the winter to tidy up the movements, so hopefully our next test will be much improved!”


Despite meeting the criteria to be considered for US team selection, Liz doesn’t expect to be competing with Cooley at the World Equestrian Games next year (23 August – 7 September), but would certainly jump at the chance if the opportunity arose.


“He’s come on leaps and bounds this year and I am interested to see how he comes out next year. Each event that we do he just keeps getting better and better, and I want to make sure that I keep him developing the right way and only move him up when he is ready. He’s only a nine-year-old, but has shown that he really has the guts and ability to be a top horse, so I’m more looking towards the 2016 Rio Olympics as a realistic goal for him.”


With their regular seasons now at a close, both Liz and Cooley have flown back to Europe and, after a short break, will begin working on preparations for 2014. The next event for Halliday and Cooley will be at Barroca d’Alva’s CIC** and CIC*** competitions in Portugal during the first two weeks of March. Until then a winter of Dressage and Show Jumping events will ensure that all of Chailey Stud’s horses remain in top shape and ready to tackle the new season.

Davidson Claims CCI3* At Galway Downs International Three-Day Event

November 04, 2013 By: janwest Category: General

Temecula, Calif., Nov. 3, 2013—Almost nothing about the Galway Downs International Three-Day Event worked out like Buck Davidson expected. Except that he came here from Pennsylvania to win the CCI3*, and he did, on Petite Flower, scoring 59.2 penalties.

Jolie Wentworth rode GoodKnight to second place (59.7) and Liz Halliday-Sharp rode HHS Cooley to third place (61.6). Davidson also finished eighth on The Apprentice (77.9).

Buck Davidson and Petite Flower, winners of the CCI3* at the Galway Downs International Three-Day Event. (Amy McCool photo)

Buck Davidson and Petite Flower, winners of the CCI3* at the Galway Downs International Three-Day Event. (Amy McCool photo)

Davidson had long planned to bring his other two horses, The Apprentice and Absolute Liberty, but he didn’t decide to bring Petite Flower until about a week before the event started, after she’d not finished the Fair Hill CCI3* in Maryland three weeks ago. And then the three horses’ performances in the three phases sometimes made Davidson feel as if he was riding on a rollercoaster.

“Nothing really happened like I expected this weekend,” said Davidson, 37, shaking his head and savoring the win, his second career CCI3* victory. “But I do know that Petite Flower is world-class. I know that beyond a shadow of a doubt, and it’s my job to bring it out in her.”

Petite Flower, 11, won the Cooper Trophy as the winner and the new Livingstone Award at the highest-scoring Thoroughbred in the CCI3*. Rise Against, owned and ridden by Bunnie Sexton, won The Jockey Club Thoroughbred Incentive Award as the top-scoring Jockey Club-registered Thoroughbred. Rise Against finished in fifth place.

BCF Bellicoso and Matt Brown, winners of the CCI2* at the Galway Downs International Three-Day Event. (Amy McCool photo)

BCF Bellicoso and Matt Brown, winners of the CCI2* at the Galway Downs International Three-Day Event. (Amy McCool photo)

Davidson’s margin of victory was just .5 points, since Petite Flower knocked down one rail, just after Wentworth and GoodKnight jumped a perfect round to keep the pressure on.

“He’s typically a really good show jumper, so I was hopeful,” said Wentworth of GoodKnight, 11. “As long as I don’t make a mistake and panic, he can do it. Luck was on our side today.”

GoodKnight and Wentworth, 32, finished second in the CCI3* in 2011 and fourth in 2012.  “He always runs well here, and Galway Downs has been a part of my life since I was a young rider, so there are a lot of incentives for us to come here every year,” said Wentworth, of Crockett, Calif.

Halliday-Sharp grew up just 20 minutes away from Galway Downs, and this year she decided to return to Galway Downs from her home in West Sussex, England, where she’s lived for 14 years. Her quick cross-country round on Saturday and her faultless show jumping round on Sunday propelled her to third place.

“It was kind of a leap of faith to come here, and I’m glad I did,” said Halliday-Sharp, 34. “I’ve seen people I haven’t seen in 20 years, who came here because they saw in the local paper that I was competing. It’s been amazing to be back here. It was the right event to come to.”

Matt Brown, of Petaluma, Calif., dominated the ribbons in the CCI2*, riding BCF Bellicoso to first place and Super Socks BCF to third place. Maya Black, of Whidbey Island, Wash., and Doesn’t Play Fair, the leaders for the first two days, knocked down one show jump to split Brown’s pair.

This was BCF Bellicoso’s second CCI win in 2013, having won the CCI1* at Rebecca Farm in Montana in July. He also won the award as the top-placing 7-year-old.

Ruth Bley and Rodrigue duGranit, winners of the CCI1* at the Galway Downs International Three-Day Event. (Amy McCool photo)

Ruth Bley and Rodrigue duGranit, winners of the CCI1* at the Galway Downs International Three-Day Event. (Amy McCool photo)

“I’m not sure what finishing first and third means to me.  I’m not used to doing so well, I guess,” said Brown, 37. “I’ve always had young or difficult horses to work with, so my focus in the last 10 years has been on trying to develop those horses. I love the process of bringing horses along, so it’s a different experience to have such top-quality horses as these, with good backgrounds.”

Brown’s world has changed in the last year, with the support of the Blossom Creek Foundation, whose sponsorship has allowed him to find several top-class horses on whom he can advance his international career.

“My focus is on me and those horses right now,” he continued. “And I guess what this weekend means is that it’s time to sit down and figure out the next step, because we have some really serious horses who have proved themselves now. If we’re going to make a go if it, we have to figure out what our next step is.”

Caroline Martin, of Rieglesville, Pa., won the Mia Eriksson Award as the highest-placed junior rider in the CCI2*. She rode Center Stage to fifth place (55.7)

Black, 25, wasn’t disappointed to finish second on Doesn’t Play Fair. “I made a mistake, and we had a rail down,” she said. “I just couldn’t be more pleased with him. I’m really excited for the future with him. I have stuff to work on, but that’s what the winter is for.”

Ruth Bley rode two horses to ribbons in the CCI1*, placing first with Rodrigue du Granit (43.3) and sixth with on Silver Sage (48.3). Bley, 54, also won the trophy as the top-scoring amateur rider in the CCI1*. She owns and manages an electrical-contracting company that installs the electricity for bridges, tunnels and sports facilities, including the San Francisco Bay Bridge.

She bought Rodrigue du Granit in February and made Galway Downs her year-end goal. “He’s just been getting better and better, but I think that the key for me was that we got here three days early, and I could just concentrate on me and my riding. It was nice to get here and just settle in,” said Bley.

Gina Economu, of Sun Valley, Calif., rode Covert to second place (43.7) and won the award for the top-scoring 6-year-old in the division. He just edged Fleur De Lis and Tami Smith, who led through the first two phases but lowered the last fence in show jumping.

“I cannot believe how amazing my horse was this weekend,” said Economu. “The cross-country course was very fair, but it was tough in what it asked, and it encouraged them to jump well.”

Lulu Shamberg, of Santa Monica, Calif., won the award for the top-placed junior rider in the CCI1*. She rode Amarna to fourth place (45.6).

The Presenting Sponsors of the Galway Downs International Three-Day Event are: Equine Insurance of California, Land Rover, Professional’s Choice, the California Horse Trader and the PRO Tour.

The Gold Medal Sponsors of the Galway Downs International Three-Day Event are: Devoucoux, Ian Stark Equestrian Center, MD Barn Master and Sunsprite Warmbloods.

The Silver Medal Sponsors are: Charles Owen, Embassy Suites Hotel, Holiday Inn Express, Majyk Equipe, SmartPak Equine and Temecula Creek Inn.

The Bronze Medal Sponsors are: American Medical Response, American Horse Trials Foundation, Auburn Labs Advanced Protection Formula, Big Horse Feeds, Cavalor, The Chronicle of the Horse, CWD, Finish Line, Freedom RV Rentals, Geranium Street Equestrian, Point Two Air Jackets, Riding Magazines Inc., Ride On Video, San Luis Rey Equine Hospital, Triple Crown Nutrition and Voltaire Design. is a Friend sponsor.

For more information on the Galway Downs International Three-Day Event, visit or call 951-303-0405. To learn more about eventing, visit the U.S. Eventing Association’s website (