Liz Halliday-Sharp’s and Deniro Z’s steady rise to success at the international level is the result of natural talent combined with an unyielding dedication to becoming world class competitors. This past weekend at their first appearance at the Burghley Horse Trials in England, this duo tackled the historic event head on, achieving a 15th place finish in a field that saw only 30 of the original 66 entries complete!
Not only was this their first appearance at Burghley, but they also nailed a personal best in dressage, scoring a 28.4 in one of the most intimidating environments in the world. They then stepped out onto the massive cross country course on a mission to conquer the famed Burghley track. Although Liz chose to take the long route at a few questions resulting in time faults, it was all done in the name of respect for Deniro Z and their first attempt at Burghley. They trotted up sound and ready to tackle the show jumping on Sunday, finishing with just one rail and the knowledge that they can hold their own against the top eventing professionals in the world.
Below are excerpts from Liz’s reflections on their voyage to Burghley.
“Thank you, Deniro Z…. It feels like I’ve waited a lifetime to say that I’ve completed Burghley, and to finish 15th with my horse of a lifetime that gave me EVERYTHING he had in all three phases is pretty special!
“In the dressage we achieved a PB at the level of 28.4 and Niro tried so hard for me and was a complete professional! Big thank you to James Burtwell for all his help and support at Burghley and for the last 8 years, and of course Pammy Hutton, Robert Dover, and Erik Duvander – every training tip makes a difference!
“Cross Country was a serious challenge- I came with a super horse that was fit and ready with plenty of scope and gallop, and he truly gave me his whole heart out there. I had planned to go most of the straight routes, but it was obvious to me in the middle part of the course that he was feeling a bit surprised by the sheer size and intensity of the track, and I had to take a few last minute options based on how he jumped into the first part of the combinations – While it was disappointing to have quite so many time faults, I definitely feel that I made the right decisions for my horse in the moment, and he finished strong, happy and ready to fight again, and I think the whole experience will only help to make him a better horse for the future!
“Deniro came out on Sunday looking great and tried SO hard in the Show Jumping! We had just one rail down which I can honestly say was my fault for getting him a bit flat to a tricky vertical. He could not have given me more!
“Most importantly, I have a true Burghley horse now that has come home happy and sound and proud of his achievement!
“None of this would have been possible without the help and support from my wonderful owners and friends, Rob Desino and Chris Desino, my incredibly supportive mum Deborah Halliday who came all the way from California to be there, my amazing husband Al Sharp, my super groom Gemma Kate who picked Niro up the first day we got him as a green 7 year old, my whole crew at home Claire Tisckos, Nicola Benson, Karen Corp, Luke Baber-Davies, April Kitchener, Jaydene Shauna, our Vet Eamon McLaughlin, farrier Robert Sparrowhawk, physio Liz Hadland, all of my hugely supportive sponsors and so many more people behind the scenes. It takes a village and I am lucky to have such a good one fighting for me!
“Huge congratulations also to the massive USA contingent that came over and brought the heat! It was a pleasure to be there fighting with you. Deniro, you really are my hero- thank you my friend!”
DeNiro will now get a well deserved holiday while Liz concludes her season in Europe in anticipation of returning to her home base at Horse Power Equestrian in Ocala, Florida this Fall. The team at Ocala Horse Properties has truly enjoyed our adventures cheering on this dynamic duo at the Burghley Horse Trials in England.
We salute their success and look forward to their return to the Horse Capital of the World in the near future!