Halliday Holds On To Lead After Kentucky CCI4*-S Cross Country

Liz Halliday and Miks Master C stay at the top of the leaderboard after the 2024 Cosequin Lexington CCI4*-S cross country in Kentucky.
CCI4*-S Cross Country
Liz Halliday and Miks Master C are in second after the Cosequin Lexington CCI4*-S cross country. ©Amy K. Dragoo

Liz Halliday said that Miks Master C was so strong in the Cosequin Lexington CCI4*-S cross-country course that she suspected he thought he was competing in the longer 2024 Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI5* rather than the CCI4* short format.

“Some of it was he knows Kentucky. And he was waiting for 11-1/2 minutes. He knows this place, and he knows how to run fast here,” Halliday (USA) said of “Mikki.” “But he jumped very well. He was very brave; he was very quick on his feet. He still answered all the combinations the right way. I think perhaps we just need to have one more run to put the brakes in place a little more.”

Mikki’s enthusiasm didn’t harm his placing with Halliday, though. The overnight leaders after dressage stayed on top the CCI4*-S leaderboard after cross-country. They had 3.2 time faults on course and ended the day with an overall score of 29.2.

Will Coleman (USA) and Diabolo were the only CCI4*-S pair to jump a clear round in the time allowed. They sit in second with a score of 29.9. Boyd Martin (USA) and Commando 3 garnered 1.2 time faults to end up in third with a score of 30.1.

Overall, 42 horse-and-rider combinations completed the cross-country, and 27 completed without jumping penalties. Five combinations were eliminated, eight retired on cross country and six were withdrawn before cross country.

The Cosequin Lexington CCI4*-S is part of the 2024 Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event, April 25-28 in Lexington.

Liz Halliday and Mikki

Halliday said she decided not to run Mikki after the Carolina International CCI and Horse Trial in mid-March before Kentucky because he’d gone so well in the previous competition. “He is a strong horse but in hindsight, I feel like he could have had one more run in between, which is just us learning him. I’ve not been with him even two years yet, and he changes all the time. But that’s just an educational experience for us all.”

In terms of trying to keep Mikki balanced on the CCI4*-S course yet still be competitive on the time allowed, Halliday said, “Luckily with him, he does gallop like a freak so you can make it up a bit in between,” she said. “He definitely was keen today. However, he is an incredible athlete, and he’s very quick on his feet. And in the places where I didn’t quite have him where I wanted, I just softened and let him find his way.

“And that is the brilliant thing about Mikki,” she continued. “He might be strong, but he’s very calculating. He actually never ran off with me through a combination. It’s just in between, he’s strong. And that’s actually been a big step for him, if we compare it to the Pan Ams. [Here] he was still very thoughtful through all the combinations while being strong in between. And that’s what can keep him going fast.”

Halliday and Mikki helped the U.S. earn a team silver medal at the 2023 Pan American Games last fall. She and Mikki placed third in the 2023 Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI5*. She opted to compete in the CCI4*-S this year because she didn’t want to run Mikki in a long format so close to the Olympics in case they are selected.

Will Coleman and Diabolo

CCI4*-S Cross Country
Will Coleman and Diabolo are in second after the Cosequin Lexington CCI4*-S cross country. ©Amy K. Dragoo

Coleman and Diabolo were the only CCI4*-S pair who completed the course within the time allowed. “He is a good cross-country horse. I knew that going in, but I never really pressed the pedal. And I would say today I didn’t even go full tilt,” Coleman said. “I found myself looking after him in a couple of places, maybe being a bit more cautious setting him up. But I just wanted to give him a good experience. And I think I did. He felt like he enjoyed it.”

Coleman said he knew he was going to be down in the time in the first three minutes because he wanted to make sure Diabolo understood the questions being asked at those fences. His strategy was to make up time in the second three minutes with the 16-year-old KWPN’s horse’s big stride. Coleman said he thankfully caught the final few fences on an open stride. “He was just ears pricked the whole way. He was a dream,” Coleman said.

“He’s a real winner,” Coleman continued. “The only knock I have against him is his age. I wish I had found him earlier. He’s a lovely horse. He’s going to be very quick cross country, and I think he’s going to end up being a real star for me. I’m really excited about him.”

Coleman also sits in fourth place with Off The Record, his U.S. team silver medal partner at the 2022 World Eventing Championships.

Boyd Martin and Commando 3

CCI4*-S Cross Country
Boyd Martin and Commando 3 are in third after the Cosequin Lexington CCI4*-S cross country. ©Amy K. Dragoo

Martin is third with Commando 3 (“Connor”) and sixth with Fedarman B (“Bruno.”) “I misjudged the time on both of them. I thought I was good on the clock. That last minute took a little bit longer than I anticipated with all the twists and turns. I’m kicking myself a bit,” he said. “But all in all, they were both fantastic and felt fresh, and they did it pretty easily there. Both are champion horses, and they’ve sort of seen everything on the course before in their training and other shows. So it was fun to ride around.”

Of Fedarman B, Martin said, “He’s a champion. The hardest thing with him is he’s a bit keen over the first couple of fences. I was probably a little cautious at the beginning. By that second minute, I knew I had to pick it up a bit.”

Martin knew the course would be difficult in terms of time. “Going around a long [format], you can get them to settle a bit. Here you sort of had to go for it right from the beginning. So he’s an unbelievable animal. They both are. I am fortunate to have both Bruno and Connor. The sky’s the limit with them.”

In terms of where he stands in terms of making the U.S. Eventing Team headed for the Paris Olympics this summer, Martin explained, “I get asked that a lot, and my answer is just not even think about it. Let’s get a great performance here, trot up sound and Monday we’ll start dreaming of the Olympics. But it’s pointless thinking about that until we get through this in good shape.”

Slipping from First

Lucienne Bellissimo and Dyri had been tied for first with Halliday and Mikki going into cross-country. But the pair had a runout at a corner fence after a ditch line, which dropped them to 31st place.

“He is ditchy historically, and he just didn’t read that last part. He jumped the first three and just ran out of ideas. I probably could have ridden it better. Maybe needed a little bit more left rein just to hold him straight and say this is absolutely the only way you’re going,” she said. “But I’m actually really impressed with how much he recovered from it. … He really did just keep trying.”

For complete results of the Cosequin Lexington CCI4*-S, click here.

The final day of the competition is Sunday. The Cosequin Lexington CCI4*-S show jumping begins at 10:45 a.m. EST.

Read more about the CCI4*-S here:

  1. Dressage Day 1 Report
  2. Dressage Day 1 Photo Gallery
  3. Dressage Day 2 Report
  4. Dressage Day 2 Photo Gallery

Thanks to Cosequin for our coverage of the 2024 Cosequin Lexington CCI4*-S. It includes rider interviews, competition reports, horse spotlights, photos, videos and more.

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