Raeford, NC — "We were flying. I was smoking the time. He was going as well as I think he’s ever gone for me," said Will Coleman (USA) on his mount Off The Record after a speedy cross-country trip that pushed them to the top of the leaderboard at the 2021 Carolina International Horse Trials. After the conclusion of the CCI4*-S cross-country phase, Coleman and Off The Record reigned supreme over a field of 36 other horse and rider pairs. Day two leader Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp (USA) and Fernhill by Night claimed second place and Will Faudree (USA) aboard PFun finished in third.
With an optimum time of 6:29, Coleman and his 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, Off The Record, were the timeliest duo to tackle the challenging 35-obstacle course. "The course was great. I thought it was a big, bulky course that required positive riding," said Coleman. "[Off The Record] was great. He’s just a bulldog. He goes like he’s on fire. I love riding him, he’s a really fun cross-country horse. He just goes out there and gives you one million percent."
Coleman was held up in the middle his run when a pin was activated by the rider ahead of him, but that didn't put a damper on Off The Record's momentum. "I knew the time was going to be quite difficult to make. I lost my rhythm a little bit when I got held, but such is life, and that’s eventing. You never know what’s going to happen when you get out there."
Coleman added, "It was a little bit hard to get him back into that same rhythm. But, [Off The Record] never stops trying to find the jumps and jump the jumps. He’s got a lot of grit about him. He’s not a supermodel, but he’s an athletic bulldog and I’m happy he went well.”
Off The Record showcased that grit during all three days of the Carolina International, getting better and better each day. In dressage, Coleman and his mount scored a 27.50 which put them in 5th place overall. On day two of show jumping, Off The Record's double clear round bumped them up to 4th place. And on the final day, the pair gave it their all on cross-country and maintained a score of 27.50 to climb to the number one spot and claim victory.
Now looking forward to the Kentucky Three-Day Event in April, Coleman said that the Carolina International was great preparation for Off The Record and his other mounts. "I think it gave my horses a great run ahead of Kentucky. [The course] had some fantastic questions that I think will prime their engines for what’s coming in a month."
Halliday Sharp and Fernhill By Night a.k.a. "Blackie" were the last in the order to challenge the course and crossed the finish line with a time of 6:46 plus 6.80 in penalties for a final score of 29.80. "I’m thrilled with Blackie, he’s such a good boy... he tried so hard for me," shared Halliday-Sharp about the efforts of her 18-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding.
Going into cross-country, Halliday-Sharp knew that time would be the biggest obstacle. "Honestly, I don’t think I could have made the time today. Like, I know I couldn’t have, because I was going pretty fast for him. And where he’s at... I take a risk to a point, but I wouldn’t put him in a place where I’d give him a really terrible ride somewhere. That’s just not fair to him, he doesn’t owe me anything, and he’s very careful. So, I’m thrilled to pieces, and I knew that might be the case today, but we did our very best and I pushed him as hard as I could push him and he was awesome. We’ll take second.”
Rounding out the top three was Will Faudree aboard PFun who stopped the clocks at 6:30 with just 0.40 in penalties for a final score of 31.60. "I was thrilled. He's not the fastest horse in the world, but he is an unbelievable jumper. I know that I can cut corners on the way to jumps. He's not a strong horse, so I can set up and know that he sees the fence. I don't [have to] worry about him at the jumps, so I can save time by galloping as close to the fence as I can. He's learned to land and really get away from the jumps. I was thrilled with him today, he just jumped super."
Faudree plans to ride PFun in the CCI5*-L at the Kentucky Three-Day Event. "I know what I have going into Kentucky with Pfun," Faudree commented on his most experienced mount. "[PFun] shows up to work every day and gives one hundred percent. When he goes out and he goes into the dressage ring, or the show jumping ring, or leaves the start box, he knows his job and he knows he's there for a reason."
At the conclusion of day three, Coleman, Halliday-Sharp and Faudree took to the podium to accept their respective awards. In addition to third place, Faudree was awarded the Antigua Trophy — a perpetual trophy given to the rider who was closest to the optimal time on cross-country.
1. William Coleman / USA / Off The Record / 27.50 / 27.50 / 27.50
2. Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp / USA / Fernhill By Night / 23.00 / 23.00 / 29.80
3. Will Faudree / USA / PFun / 31.20 / 31.20 / 31.60
4. Phillip Dutton / USA / Sea Of Clouds / 30.70 / 30.70 / 33.50
5. Doug Payne / USA / Quantam Leap / 30.00 / 30.00 / 36.00
6. Sydney Elliott / USA / QC Diamantaire / 29.50 / 33.50 / 36.70
7. Doug Payne / USA / Vandiver / 28.00 / 32.00 / 37.20
8. Sharon White / USA / Cooley On Show / 32.00 / 32.00 / 38.40
9. Matthew Flynn / USA / Wizzerd / 27.30 / 27.30 / 40.50
10. Doug Payne / USA / Star Witness / 29.90 / 29.90 / 41.90
For more information and results, visit carolinainternationalcci.com.