By: Lulu Kyriacou
The first in HSI’s occasional series on American ex-pats visits British-based motor racer and three-day eventer Liz Halliday, who looks like your typical Californian girl, but is anything but typical.
Liz Halliday looks like your typical Californian girl. Slim, blonde, athletic, green eyes and wide smile, but the 34-year-old from San Diego is anything but typical. Now a resident of East Sussex in the south of England, Liz divides her time between two extreme sports, motor racing and eventing.
Liz entered the horse world as a child, in the way of many young girls, but her father Don, who sadly passed away in 2012, had always been a motor sport enthusiast. As well as teaching race driving skills he also drove a little himself and when Liz was 16, he introduced her to an alternate form of horse power.
“I loved it and it was great being able to share something with my father,” says Liz. “As a young man he hitch-hiked all the way to Florida for the Sebring 12 Hour race. He was that dedicated. So you can imagine how emotional it was the day I completed that race first in my class and second overall, the highest placing for a woman in the history of the race.”
Luckily Liz has never had to choose between the two sports she loves.
Having decided to spend some time in England to improve her eventing skills, Liz ended up working for William Fox-Pitt. But her arrival in 2000 led to a more permanent arrangement a few years later.
Having rented space or properties to keep her growing string of horses, Liz decided, that her own place was required. Another development in her life contributed to starting a search in earnest.
Motor racing and eventing are both time consuming and leave little time for socializing and meeting potential partners. So Liz paid her money and embarked on the often turbulent ride of internet dating. It was a short trip. Enter Al Sharp, to whom Liz is now married. “I thought I would give the dating thing a shot and Al was the first guy I decided to meet up with. I remember worrying the whole time that he would look nothing like his picture or that we would not get on, but actually it has worked out fine!”
Two and a half years ago the couple bought Chailey Stud in Sussex where they have built their dream home.
“Planning a wedding and moving into a new equestrian facility at the same time was probably not my best ever idea’ remarked Liz. However, most of the refurbishment work on the yard, which includes a main barn with stabling for 30 horses, indoor school and outdoor arena and acres of grazing, has now been completed. Liz has about ten event horses herself, the rest of the boxes are taken by liveries.”
Last year she started a new chapter in her racing career when she began competing in the Lotus Cup UK Championship for the John Danby Racing team. She also recorded her first three day event win when taking the CCI* at Aldon with part bred Welsh cob, Endymion Entrechat, aka Trevor. Liz started 2013 by winning a CIC class in Portugal on Fernhill By Night, a horse she has high hopes for the future. Goals are to get the current team of horses up the two and three star ladder and win more races.
In addition to both forms of competing (if that was not enough to keep a person busy) Liz will also be commentating on the famous Le Mans 24 Hour Race, which she has competed in on three occasions and would like to again. In the US she has worked as a pit lane reporter for CBS Sports on their coverage of the American Le Mans Series, and more recently performed the role of expert judge on SPEED TV’s GT Academy. In the UK she worked with Sky TV alongside Formula One’s David Coulthard and Eddie Irvine, for the hit reality show “The Race”, where she coached a team of female celebrities.
“I can fit all my activities in because of the set up here at Chailey Stud,” says Liz. “With the indoor stabling, arena and the covered horse walker, it doesn’t matter what the weather does, I can always get the horses exercised which means I can plan my days out more accurately,……although I was supposed to spend a day in the office yesterday but somehow I ended up riding instead.”