Three Queens Take Top Three Spots at Carolina International

It was a ladies only podium at the conclusion of CCI4*-S competition at the 2024 Carolina International with Liz Halliday at the top.

It’s ladies only on the podium at the end of day three at the Setters’ Run Farm Carolina International. The top three spots in the Yanmar America CCI4*-S were filled by Liz Halliday and Ocala Horse Properties’ and Deborah Palmer’s Miks Master C (Mighty Magic – Qui Luma CBF, by Flying Quite Easy 958) who finished on their dressage score of 22.5, Carolina Pamukcu and HSH Blake (Tolan R – Doughiska Lass, by Kannan) took second place with a 30.7, and Meghan O’Donoghue and Palm Crescent finished third with a 30.9.

Liz Halliday
Liz Halliday and Miks Master C held the CCI4*-S lead over three days of competition to claim victory.
© Brant Gamma

CCI4* winner Liz Halliday was thrilled with “Mikki’s” performance. “Yeah, it was fantastic. I was really happy with him. And he was very thoughtful and organized at all the questions and galloped well and came back to me, which was great. That was sort of the big question. And he was, obviously he’s always going to be a strong horse. We’re not going to take that out of them. But he did come back to me. And he was then, like I say, very thoughtful, the fences very organized, and very clever on his feet. So I was really thrilled with him.”

Halliday also received the Antigua Cup, named after Will Faudree’s off-the-track Thoroughbred who passed away in 2021. The award is given to riders who are closest to the optimum time. Halliday completed the course dead on the time with Miks Master C. “I planned to run him fast. I wanted to run him inside the time. And yeah, I think we’re heading the right way. I was really happy.”

Caroline Pamukcu and HSH Blake, owned by Mollie Hoff and Sherri Martin, laid down a clear cross country round that added just 2.8 time penalties to her dressage score for a total score of 30.7. “He’s like a little unicorn. He’s nine years old now. How many nine year olds are in this division? Well, besides my two horses actually. So I think Blake and my other one, She’s the One, are the only two nine year olds. They’re incredible athletes, and we’re so lucky that we have them,” Pamukcu said. “It’s funny. In the warm up, I wasn’t nervous. I was just looking forward to riding him and just kind of looking forward to it. In my head, I was like, ‘Oh, it’s just a schooling round.’ And I don’t think I’ve ever been in a position in my career to have a horse that feels like it’s doing a schooling round at the four-star level. And I think this is his third advanced now. And it feels like he’s been doing it for 200 years.”

Caroline Pamukcu and HSH Blake earned second place in the CCI4*-S.
© Brant Gamma

It’s been a long road for Pamukcu and HSH Blake. She struggled to find an owner for him after a lackluster start to his career, but never stopped believing in him. “After he won the two-star long at Virginia, the National Championships, I called Molly Hoff. I cried on the phone begging her. I was like, ‘Please, can we keep this? He’s proper, I swear.’ And you know, you don’t know what’s gonna happen at that time. He was nice, but I couldn’t tell anyone he was definitely going to do what he’s done,” Pamukcu said. “And then when he was seven years old, we went to England and then competed at Lyon as an eight year old. He’s just phenomenal.”

Meghan O’Donoghue and Palm Crescent rounded out the top three.
© Brant Gamma

Getting onto the podium was an emotional moment for Meghan O’Donoghue and her own Palm Crescent (Quiet American xx – Edey’s Village xx, by Silvery Deputy xx). She’s had the ride on the large bay Thoroughbred gelding since 2015 and, as her only upper level horse, they’ve developed an extremely close relationship.

“I think that today, I went out with the mindset that, you know, he’s aimed at a five-star. And I want him to feel good about himself. But I also, you know, I haven’t been put in this position to be competitive, too often, yeah, in my career, so I kind of felt like I had something to like, go out and prove that, you know, I actually liked the pressure and thrive under the pressure. Without being too crazy, I tried to make good choices, but let him have a good run. And do as competitively as I thought was safe enough to do today,” O’Donoghue said.

“He is really just an incredible horse. He gives 110 percent all the time. And he’s full of personality and he’s the king of our stable because he is our only top horse– but he genuinely appreciates it, you know? And I think that this weekend is just a relief because I feel like finishing on the podium is what he deserves,” O’Donoghue said. “So I’m gonna get emotional. He’s 18. You gotta like, sit back and think, ‘Man, I wish I had five more years with him.’ But it’s just how it is. I’m happy to be here and to have this event with him. Whatever happens next is just icing on the cake. He doesn’t owe us anything.”

For final results, click here.

Thanks to Mane ‘n Tail Equine for our coverage of the 2024 Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event, including lead-up events, rider interviews, competition reports, horse spotlights, photos, videos and more!⁣

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