Will Coleman (USA) cannot be beat when it comes to the Carolina International. For three consecutive years, he has reigned victorious in the CCI4*-S division—each time aboard a different horse. This year, he and Chin Tonic came out on top with a 19.4, never having added penalties to their dressage score, which is the lowest-ever score in the event’s history.
Liz Halliday-Sharp (USA) and Miks Master C added just 0.8 time penalties to their dressage score, finishing on 20.9 to earn second place, while Will Faudree (USA) and Pfun sped around the course to move up from fifth to third place with a final score of 30.1.
Three-peat for Coleman
Ahead of cross-country, Coleman said he “hadn’t given a bit of thought” to the possibility of winning the Carolina International CCI4*-S for the third consecutive year. “I just like Carolina, I like the event, and I just want to give my horses a good go.”
A good go indeed, as Coleman secured the three-peat victory. “I feel like a pretty lucky guy that I have three horses to bring to an event like this.” In 2021, Coleman won the event aboard Off The Record, followed by a victory with Dondante in 2022, and now with “Chin” in 2023.
“They’ve all performed really well for me and tried hard for me. Mostly, I’m just proud of the horses and our team—our program, my wife, staff, coaches, vets farriers, owners. It takes a village.”
Coleman’s acquaintance with the field at the Carolina Horse Park helped him execute his plan for Ian Stark’s cross-country course. “I think the key to getting the time here is to be pretty efficient and quick in the beginning, because that’s the most open part of the course,” noted Coleman. “I thought Chin Tonic was great through that whole section. I thin he was very neat. I thought we were hyper efficient all the way through the first water. Everything was going to plan.”
Once in the woods, though, the 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding was more careful. “I don’t know if the ground was a little wet today, it was a little slippery. I felt like he maybe lost a few seconds coming through the woods there. Coming out to the final water, I kind of knew I was going to be pretty close.”
Regardless, Coleman and Chin managed to cross the finish line right on the optimum time of 6:33 and two seconds ahead of second place finisher Halliday-Sharp. “He was a really good boy. I think he tried really hard. I did press on him quite a bit there, but that I think that’s the stage he’s at in his career. He’s ready to have maybe a little more pressure on and I thought he answered the call really nicely for me. I’m very tickled with him.”
Neck and Neck ‘Til the End
Going into cross-country, Halliday-Sharp and Miks Master C were hot on Coleman and Chin’s tails with just 0.7 points separating them. Second-to-last in the order with just Coleman behind her, Halliday-Sharp tripped the timers at 6:35, giving Coleman a two second buffer. It was a nail-biter to the end, but Coleman’s execution of the optimum time landed Halliday-Sharp and “Mikki” in the second place spot.
“I probably over set him up [in a few places], which is where the 0.8 time [penalties] were,” Halliday-Sharp reflected. “But that’s totally fine looking ahead to the future. I know I could have easily put 10 more seconds into it without much effort, so that’s awesome.”
All in all, Halliday-Sharp got everything she wanted out of the 11-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding this weekend in preparation for the Kentucky Three-Day Event in April. “He was fantastic. I’m totally thrilled with him.”
“I’m very glad I came here and I came here for a reason,” she continued. “This is probably some of the biggest drops the horse has ever done in competition. He hasn’t really done that many, so it was a great test for us—a lot of ditches and things like that. It puts you in a place where you know where you are, which is great. I came here for a reason, to ride around [Stark’s] track, and I think it was very beneficial.
Galloping to Podium Position
Faudree and Pfun galloped around Stark’s cross-country course and beat the optimum time with two seconds to spare, bumping them up to finish in third place. The duo started the weekend tied for sixth after dressage, then moved up to fifth following show jumping, and ultimately landed a podium spot.
Faudree had his own three-peat, this being his third consecutive year placing third aboard Pfun at the Carolina International. “It’s like, ‘Coleman’s done the hat-trick’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah, on three different horses, but I finished third on the same horse three years in a row,'” laughed Faudree.
He and the 16-year-old Irish Sporthorse gelding have a long-standing partnership, but “he’s a horse I’ve believed in from the day I sat on him,” said Faudree. “He and I have such an amazing partnership, and it’s just fun—no pun intended,” he joked.
For final results, click here.
Thanks to Mane ‘n Tail Equine for our coverage of the 2023 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, including lead-up events, rider interviews, competition reports, horse spotlights, photos, videos and more!