Coleman Remains on Top After Show Jumping at Carolina International

Will Coleman and Chin Tonic remain on top of the leaderboard ahead of cross-country at the Carolina International.

Day two of the Carolina International may have been an “odd day” according to USA’s Will Coleman, but that didn’t stop him from maintaining the top position on the CCI4*-S leaderboard with Chin Tonic. The duo went clear and under the time to hold onto their score of 19.4 going into cross-country.

Liz Halliday-Sharp (USA) and Miks Master C also maintained their score of 20.1 to remain in the second place spot, while Doug Payne (USA) and Starr Witness were bumped into third place with a score of 24.6 due to Coleman’s elimination with Off The Record.

Will Coleman and Chin Tonic
© Julia Murphy

“An Odd Day”

“[Chin Tonic] tried hard. We had sort of a messed up day,” said Coleman. “He pulled a shoe right before I was about to go.” On top of that, Coleman took a spill off his overnight third place mount, “Timmy,” at fence three on course. “I couldn’t tell you [what happened],” admitted Coleman.

Coleman added that “Chin,” an 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding, is a hot-blooded horse, so the start and stop to replace his shoe wasn’t ideal. “It didn’t feel like he was jumping as well as he can,” admitted Coleman. “It was sort of an odd course. A little counter-intuitive in a lot of places, which can be good to keep us on our toes. But it definitely felt not as smooth as some rounds. He tried hard.”

“I’m ready to get this day over with,” Coleman laughed. “It’s been an odd day. The wind has been crazy. What happened with Timmy was very out of character. But, that’s horses. It happens.”

Regardless of a rough day, Coleman will move onto cross-country in the first place position with the chance to win the Carolina International for the third consecutive year.

Not the Only One

Coleman wasn’t the only one who felt there was something funky in the air today in Raeford, North Carolina. “They’re all a bit feral today,” laughed Liz-Halliday Sharp. “[Miks Master C] was good. He was a lot of horse today. … I definitely have my hands more full than I usually do with him now. I feel like we’re pretty gelled now in the jumping, and today, he was extra horse.”

Halliday-Sharp agreed that Marc Donovan’s course today demanded extra attention. “Certainly, with ‘Mikki,’ it’s always tricky, because you have to, like Peter Wylde says, ‘Make the time without telling him you are,’ because if I get him wound up, he’s got such a gigantic stride. All the distances are short for him, so I have to be careful I don’t just let him loose, especially when he’s feeling a bit wild anyway. I knew the time was tight enough, so I had to make sure I made the time but was organized at the same time.”

Halliday-Sharp has worked with Olympian Wylde as her show jumping coach for over two years now. “I just absolutely love working with him,” she shared. “He’s just very quiet in his way, and he is totally beautiful rider. If you have ever watched him ride, he’s so smooth, and so calm and just organizes everything the right way. There’s none of this heavy adrenaline. It’s all about just getting the horses to think for themselves, which I think is really important. And I think for me, it keeps me chill in my head. It keeps me in a good place that way.”

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Miks Master C
© Julia Murphy

A Challenging Track

Payne and Starr Witness were one of just four pairs that went double clear in the show jumping phase. The start list for cross-country was shortened by four horse and rider combinations—one withdrawal, one elimination due to a fall (Coleman) and two compulsory retirements due to five or more rails down on course. Payne shared his thoughts about why he thought Donovan’s track was challenging for many.

“Everything is built to specifications and quite square. The difficult thing about that field is a little bit of undulation. A bunch of the oxers were off a roll-back and a little bit uphill,” said Payne. “So if the horses got any bit backwards or behind your leg through the turn or just not connected, they ended up weak, climbing up to it. I think that makes it a lot harder and it’s a bit deceptive.”

To combat the topography of the jumping field, Payne explained, “I’m trying to do my best to keep her engaged and coming forward.” He added that the 12-year-old Dutch warmblood mare was “very, very good” today and that she’s “a privilege to ride.”

CCI4*-S competition at the 2023 Carolina International resumes Saturday, March 18, at 11:48 a.m. EST with cross-country.

For full results after dressage, click here.

Thanks to Kent Nutrition Group and Blue Seal for our coverage of the 2023 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, including rider interviews, competition reports, horse spotlights, photos, videos and more!⁣

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