Aiken, South Carolina – Sept. 25, 2020 – Following a day full of dressage and a good night’s rest on Thursday, the 40 competitors in this weekend’s Oktoberfest CCI4*-S at Stable View in Aiken, South Carolina made their way to the outdoor stadium ring on Friday for their second phase of the weekend- show jumping. Course designer Chris Barnard (USA) commented that his 4* track “walked as tough as it rode,” but he considered the design to be fair for the level. Throughout the day, we saw only 14 clear rounds, in addition to 13 four-fault rounds, five eight-fault rounds, and a handful of higher penalties resulting from Barnard’s course.
With close dressage scores barely setting the top five competitors apart, riders would need to execute a clear round over Friday’s show jump track to hold on to their ranking on the leader board. A rail or even a fraction of a time fault could result in a major shakeup, which we saw as riders bounced around the standings all throughout the morning, including overnight leaders Doug Payne and Vandiver, who dropped from the pole position to fifth following an unfortunate rail.
Coming narrowly behind Payne following dressage Thursday was Liz Halliday-Sharp and Fernhill By Night, who delivered a clear round to slide into the leading position. Commenting on her horse’s performance today, Halliday-Sharp shared, “He was really great. We’ve been together for a long time. I don’t run him that much now because he is 17 this year. We just save him for the right events that suit him, and it’s kind of nice because we are like old friends now. We really know each other. I feel like he really tried his guts out for me. He jumped such a great round. I couldn’t have been happier with him.”
Moving up from third to second after a clear round was Matthew Flynn and Wizzerd. Payne and his second mount in the 4*, Quantum Leap, who were sitting in 6th last night, jumped up to third after delivering a brilliant effort in the stadium ring.
Continuing into the top five, Will Faudree moved up five positions to snag the fourth-place standing going into cross-country aboard Caeleste. Payne also sits in fifth with Vandiver, and the pair are the highest-ranking four-fault pair following Friday’s show jumping phase.
With her sights set on the win tomorrow, Halliday-Sharp shared with Phelps Sports: “I am going to do my best to take the win. He’s not the fastest horse on earth ever, but he did make the time at Carolina last year and finished on his dressage score there. He definitely feels up for it, and with him, he knows his job, but I have to respect all of the fences. He wants to get ridden a certain way, so to speak. I just have to be on my game and be efficient with all my lines and make sure I don’t waste time anywhere, while at the same time giving him a proper ride so that he can read the fences.”
CCI4*-S competition will conclude on Saturday following the completion of the cross-country phase, which begins on Saturday morning at 8:30 a.m. with the CCI2*-S competition.