The year was 2013, when Ocala Horse Properties began to forge a relationship with Liz Halliday-Sharp and her husband, Al Sharp, who were in Ocala searching for the perfect location for Horsepower Equestrian. Liz and Al, who also operate Chailey Stud Equestrian Center in England, partnered with OHP for their expertise in sourcing Marion County’s finest equestrian properties. Throughout the real estate experience, a friendship began to evolve, and the Desino’s began to take note of Liz’s remarkable talent and accomplishments as a professional Athlete.
Liz is truly a special breed of competitor, with an impressive background in the race car industry, in addition to her equestrian accolades. Bornin San Diego, California – Liz was introduced to the car racing world through her father, Don Halliday, who was a driver and instructor. During her college years at UC Santa Barbara, then her time in England, she tackled this male dominated sport accumulating impressive results; She raced in the Kumho BMW Championships, broke class lap records, won the British GT Championship round, completed the Le Mans 24 hours, and became the most successful female driver in American Le Mans history with six victories. During this time period Liz also excelled as a broadcast commentator, covering the 24 Hours of Le Mans for Eurosport and the American LeMans series for CBS Sports.
It is true that people with similar mindsets tend to gravitate toward one another. While attending Hobart College, the Desino’s were two-time National Collegiate Champions in competitive rowing. After college, they moved to Philadelphia to train and compete for the World Championship Teams. Unfortunately, Rob sustained a career ending injury prior to the 2000 Summer Olympics, so the brothers turned their energy and focus to-ward building several successful restaurant businesses in Upstate New York. The Desino’s love for eventing took them to Ocala during the winters. Upon the sale of their restaurant businesses in New York, the relocated to the beautiful climate and horse centric area of Marion County to pursue their riding. Recognizing the opportunity to build a solid real estate business focused on farm sales, they began to establish a name for themselves as top agents in Ocala.
As Ocala Horse Properties expanded, their time to compete in eventing took a back seat, but their love for the sport didn’t dwindle. They became ardent supporters of equestrian sports in Ocala, through event sponsorship at HITS, The Ocala Horse Park, Live Oak International and The Ocala Horse Properties’ Eventing Prix. Although they thrived on this level of support for the equestrian industry, they still missed all the aspects of horse ownership. The Desino’s athletic background and appreciation for the value of hard work certainly rang true as they began to observe Liz’s desire to be a world class event rider. In 2017, after watching Liz school one of her top young horse’s cross country, they decided it was time to pull the trigger. They took their dedication to the next level by investing in event horse ownership, becoming the sole owners in her talented young horse, Deniro Z! Since then Chris, Rob, and Liz have continued to identify a secure young horses with talent.