Grand Prix Eventing at Bruce’s Field

grand prix eventing at bruce's field

upclose and personal

The inaugural $50,000 Liftmaster Grand Prix Eventing at Bruce’s Field, was up close and personal.  This invitational event attracted 32 competitors from across the globe. Riders from Great Britain, Sweeden, Australia, Brazil, Canada and the USA participated, with a total of 36 horses.  

Olympian William Fox Pitt was awarded a catch ride aboard Hannah Salazar’s Sandro’s Star, the USEA’s stallion of the year for the past 2 years.

Mark Bellissimo pioneered the showcase format 3 years ago in Wellington.  The x-country course designed by Capt. Mark Phillips of GBR consisted of 22 efforts with a distance of 2210m. Each cross country jump showcased Aiken specific landmarks.

Thanks to the organizing committee:  Phillip Dutton (Chair), Boyd Martin, Evie Dutton, Fernanda Kellogg, Doug Payne, Mike Lever, Shelley Page, Jack Wetzel, Tara Bostwick and kate Bogan.  Their years of experience and attention to detail made this unique and memorable event attractive to participants, sponsors and spectators.

The Mission of The Aiken Horse Park Foundation 

is to promote Aiken’s equestrian way of life and to encourage the community’s civic, educational and charitable endeavors. 

Phillip Dutton came up with the brillaint idea that each competitor represent one of the 13 participating charities.  The top 3 finishers of the week-end earned $2500 for first place, $1500 for 2nd place and $1000 for 3rd place.

First place went to USA competitor Liz-Halliday-Sharp, riding her 2003 Irish Sport Horse gelding: Fernhill By Night. $2000 was awarded to FOTAS.

2nd place went to USA competitor Doug Payne, riding a 2004 Trakehner geldiong owned by Debi Crowley. $1500 was awarded to HOME  FOR G00D DOG RESCUE.

3rd place went to Great Britain competitor William Fox-Pitt, riding 2008 Olenburg Stallion, Sandro’s Star owned by Hannah Salazar. $1000 was awarded to MENTAL HEALTH AMERICA OF AIKEN COUNTY

About the top 3 contestants

First Place awarded to Liz Halliday-Sharp  representing USA, aboard Fernhill by Night, a 2003 Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by Deborah Halliday.  

Liz, originally from California divides her time between Chailey Stud Equestrian Centre located in East Sussex, England, and  Horse Power Equestrian based out of Ocala, FL.

Liz dedicates  her life to international three day eventing and aspires to make it to the Olympics.

She’s also a professional racing driver in sportscar and GT endurance disciplines. Liz is also an experienced TV broadcaster and presenter, and has worked with numerous different channels and companies in both the US and Europe. 

Photo Credit Cindy Lawler

2nd place awarded to Doug Payne, representing USA, aboard 2004 Trakehner named Vandiver owned by Debi Crawley.

Doug has extensive competition experience through CCI***** of Eventing, Grand Prix Show Jumping as well as Intermediare Dressage.  His expertise is in training horses and has written a book titled The Problem Horse Repair Manual.

He is based out of Aiken, SC and Rougemont, NC, with many local fans.


3rd place awarded to William Fox-Pitt representing Great Britain.  William was “catch riding” a 2008 Oldenberg stallion by the name of Sandro’s Star, owned by Hannah Salazar.

Career highlights include 3 Olympic medals in the team event.  He won team gold and individual silver at the 2010 Equestrian Games. He was the first rider to win 5 different 4 star events. Record breaking 6 wins at Burghley Horse Trials; Rolex, Kentucky 3 times; Badminton Horse Trials 2 times; Stars of Paui 2 times, and the Luhmuhlen Horse Trials once.

A serious fall in 2015 put him in a coma for 2 weeks.  Obviously, he is more than capable of straddling a new mount and placing in the top three.

Photo Credit - Cindy Lawler

william fox-pitt - The Pied Piper

William Fox-Pitt lead a well attended cross country course walk on Sunday morning. Those lucky enough to participate had a refreshing perspective of what the competitors could expect as they navigated this wild and twisty course.   He was very specific and gave the participants the feeling that you were one of his students’, answering questions as they arose, giving jumping efforts a score of a 4**** or 3***plus or minus.  Sharing some of his personal rides, and pointing out the difference from riding a green or a seasoned horse. His devotion to this sport was clear and somewhat contagious.  Once you adapted to his British accent, his expressions would stick in your head.  For example, “Don’t just gallup up here, ride up here like it is a jump!  Fast, fast fast and the last stride to be quiet.  TROT, POP and TURN!  A memorable learning experience for all equestrian levels.






There is no doubt that Bruce 
Duchossois has a smile on his face as he watches from the White Pearly Gates.


This event was covered by a number of sources.  There is nothing better than being there youself, but if you happened to miss the event or want to tune in for more information please do

EQTV Network is forming live stream partnerships with a growing list of competitions.

The global  “go to” resource for Eventing news

Wonder what it was like to ride the cross country course?  Take a look from 2nd place winner Doug Payne’s point of view.