He’ll have another, please! Will Coleman picked up his third consecutive win at the Setters’ Run Farm Carolina International CCI4*-S today after a masterful cross country performance with Hyperion Stud’s Chin Tonic HS. His hat trick is achieved on the backs of three different rides: Chin Tonic HS (2023), Dondante (2022), and Off The Record (2021).
“I feel like a pretty lucky guy that I have three horses to bring to an event like this,” Will said. “Mostly, I’m just proud of the horses and our team, our program, and my wife, staff, coaches, vets, farriers, kind of everybody, owners especially. It takes a village and I’m thankful to have a really nice group of people helping me.”
The FEI World Equestrian Games team silver medalist has been bringing along the 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Chin Champ – Wildera, by Quinar Z) since he was five, and today he showed his potential as a future world-beater, finishing square on the optimum time of 6 minutes 33 seconds. Their result of 19.4 sets a new record for the lowest four-star finishing score at this event.
“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,” Will said. “I thought Chin Tonic was great through that whole section. I think he just was very neat. I thought we were hyper-efficient, and really all the way through the first water, everything was going to plan.”
Ian Stark’s track laid out steeplechase-like galloping in the early bits, but turned on the heat as the course continued, and that’s where Will said “Chin” showed what he’s capable of. “Coming out to the final water, I kind of knew I was going to be pretty close [to the time]. It was kind of like wheels-up time for Chin, and he answered the bell. I did press on him quite a bit there, but that I think is sort of the stage he’s at in his career, he’s ready to maybe have a little more pressure on. I thought he answered the call really nicely for me.”
A horse with a charismatic presence, the Hyperion Stud entry has a heritage that nods more to show jumping and dressage success. At just 41% blood and with a sire that jumped 1.45m classes himself, Will says that Chin’s heart and try are what carry him through across the country — and that’s what he’s banking on heading to the German-bred gelding’s first five-star later this spring. “It’s taken a while for him to develop a step on cross-country. I still don’t think he’s the most natural galloper on cross-country, but he’s improved tremendously and he does really enjoy it. I think his character in that regard is really what makes it possible for him to be a successful upper-level event horse. I think Kentucky will be a big question for him, but I feel like he’s feeling more and more ready all the time,” Will said.
Just two seconds were added to Liz Halliday-Sharp and Miks Master C‘s cross country performance, finishing on a result of 20.9 for second place. Liz, who won here previously in 2019 with Fernhill By Night, reports that her new relationship with “Mickey,” 11-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding (Mighty Magic – Qui Luma CBF, by Flyinge Quite Easy 958) is finally starting to “gel.”
“He’s such a world class horse. I feel like we’re a real partnership now,” she said, praising the horse for his polite attitude without sacrificing boldness, which Liz has been aching to achieve with the exuberant jumper. “Some of the distances were challenging because they were quite short and he’s a big, bold, big-striding horse, but he was with me the whole way. I probably had a few more controls than I expected. It was a good thing — it was sort of my plan, but I probably over set him up in the odd place — which was where the 0.8 time penalties were.”
Like Chin, Mickey is also eyeing a five-star debut at Kentucky.
“I’m really glad I came here [to prepare for Kentucky]. These are some of the biggest drops he’s probably seen in competition. He’s not done that many, so it was a great test for us with a lot of ditches and things like that. I kind of puts you in a place where you know where you are, which is great and I came here for a reason to ride around his track and I think it was very beneficial,” she said.
This year marks the seventh season at the four-star level for Will Faudree‘s eldest campaigner, Pfun. The local Souther Pines resident and the 16-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Tadmus – Celerina, by Cento) owned by Jennifer Mosing and Sterling Silver Stables demonstrated their partnership by delivering a classy clear round inside the time to finish on a score of 30.1 for third place. It’s a great start to the next phase of Pfun’s career, which sees the stalwart five-star horse step down a level to focus on the short-formats.
“He and I have such an amazing partnership — and it’s just fun, no pun intended,” laughed Will. “He’s a horse I believed in from day one, and there’s no pressure on him now; I’m not going to do another five-star with him, because the distance is hard for him. I always joke that if Kentucky wanted to do a preview of how the combinations should be ridden, a monkey could take him through there; he just loves it, but if it’s over seven minutes, he gets a little tired, and it’s not fair to try to do that to him. Without the fitness and the pounding necessary for five-star, I can really focus on the finer details and things like the dressage.”
Just one-tenth of a penalty point further down the leaderboard sit Sydney Elliot and QC Diamantaire. They’ll take home fourth place after a wonderfully fast round — fastest of the division, in fact — which saw them cross the finish flags inside the time. The 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Diarado – Lantana, by Sandro Hit) owned by Carol Stephens, a huge supporter of Sydney’s, is now a veteran of international competition having contested Aachen, Boekelo and of course Kentucky, where the pair finished 8th last year.
Doug Payne couldn’t beat the clock with overnight-third-placed Starr Witness, and the pair landed in fifth. The 12-year-old KWPN mare (Chello III VDL – Carmen, by Veneur), owned by Laurie McRee, Catherine Winter and the rider, added 6.8 time penalties to finish on a score of 31.4. Doug, however, told us yesterday that his plan for the spicy liver chestnut mare was to go “efficiently fast” across country, not necessarily looking to beat the clock today but not wasting any time during their round either.
Where his mare lacked speed today, Doug’s U.S. CCI5*-L National Champion Quantum Leap, a 12-year-old DSP gelding (Quite Capitol – Report to Sloopy, by Corporate Report), picked up the slack, coming home one second under the optimum time for a result of 34.8 for sixth place.
Boyd Martin wrapped up seventh with his brand-new partner Commando 3. This is a first International finish for DSN Equestrian’s 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Connor 48 – R-Adelgunde, by Amigo xx) under Boyd’s tutelage since being acquired from Sweden’s Louise Romeike, and what a successful “getting to know you” outing they had, finishing with 10.8 time penalties, but no jump penalties for a final result of 36.6.
Will Faudree’s second top-ten finish came in the form of a 44.5-point finish aboard Mama’s Magic Way. Jennifer Mosing and Sterling Silver Stables’ 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Mighty Magic – Straightaway, by Star Regent xx) was his pathfinding ride for the four-star division, and “Mason” came home with only 4.4 time penalties faulting their result (44.5).
Canada’s Lindsay Traisnel picked up a ninth-place finish with the 12-year-old Selle Français gelding (Mylord Carthago – Lelia, by Clyde de la Combe) Bacyrouge. The pair, who were named to the 2023 Equestrian Canada National Squad earlier this season, had 13.2 educational time penalties to end the weekend on 45.4.
Mary Bess Davis’ Imperio Magic carried her to a top-ten finish on a score of 46. “McColl” has a natural instinct to hunt the flags that belies his nine years of age, and the Anglo-European gelding (Cassander C – Khadija des Hayettes, by Banboula du Thot) had only 6.4 time penalties in a very clever performance today.
The biggest competitor for the four-star riders was the clock, as very few entries had jump penalties. Just three pairs ran into trouble out on course: Lexi Scovil and Chico’s Man VDF Z where eliminated for collecting refusals at the latter two elements of the coffin complex followed by a stop at the Normandy Bank; New Zealand’s Hayley Frielick tumbled from Dunedin Black Watch at 13B, the corner after the first water; and Meghan O’Donoghue and Palm Crescent collected an uncharacteristic stop at fence 18, the big drop into the final water complex.
That’s a wrap from the marquee class here at the 2023 Setters’ Run Farm Carolina International. We can’t wait to see you at the next one, EN!
Abby Powell contributed to this report.