Mar 17, 2023

Coleman Bounces Back to Maintain Lead in CCI4*-S at SRF Carolina International

By Lindsay Berreth - USEA Staff
Will Coleman and Chin Tonic HS. USEA/Lindsay Berreth photos

Raeford, N.C.—March 17Sometimes you just have to be a goldfish, as Ted Lasso says to his team on the Apple TV series of the same name—forget what happened quickly and move on.

Will Coleman came into the CCI4*-S show jumping today at the Setters’ Run Farm Carolina International on top of the class with Chin Tonic HS and in third with Off The Record, but by the end of the class he was ready to forget his wild day.

Coleman rode the Off the Record Syndicate's 14-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding Off the Record (VDL Arkansas x Drumagoland Bay), his 2022 FEI World Eventing Championship (Pratoni, Italy) mount, first over Marc Donovan’s show jumping course on the grass field at the Carolina Horse Park. With winds whipping, many horses were unnerved throughout the day, and “Timmy” shocked Coleman by sliding to a stop in front of fence 3, a vertical, and somersaulting Coleman over his head.

“I was so shocked, I had no idea what happened,” he said.

After dusting himself off and walking out of the ring, Coleman hopped on Chin Tonic HS to warm up, but the gelding lost a shoe.

Once it was on, they headed into the ring as the last to go and delivered one of just six double-clear rounds to maintain their 19.4 score heading into tomorrow’s cross-country.

“You just have to forget about it,” he said. “My bum hurts a little bit, but other than that I just try to put it out of my mind. Stuff happens and you have to be a goldfish as Ted Lasso would say. The wind has been crazy and just what happened with Timmy was very out of character, but that’s horses. It’s just been one of those days.”

Will Coleman and Chin Tonic HS.

“Chin,” an 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Chin Champ x Wildera), owned by Hyperion Stud LLC, has a very strong show jumping record, but Coleman felt he wasn’t jumping as well as he could have.

“It was sort of an odd course, I thought—a little counterintuitive in a lot of places—which can be good to keep us on our toes, but it definitely felt maybe not as smooth as some rounds,” he said. “He tried hard. We had sort of a messed-up day. He pulled his shoe right before I was about to go and then he’s a very hot-blooded horse, so to start and stop with him is not the ideal scenario for him to jump well. Maybe that contributed to just not feeling as good as normal. But he’s a quality horse, and he tried hard. We left them up; we touched that last one pretty good but got a bit lucky, and now we go on to tomorrow.”

Twenty-four pairs started the show jumping. Julie Wolfert withdrew SSH Playboy after she fell off in warm up. Two pairs, Dana Cooke and FE Glamour, and Fylicia Barr and Galloway Sunrise, were given compulsory retirements for five or more rails and will not be allowed to continue to cross-country.

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Miks Master C were one of the pairs to jump double-clear, and they’ll stay in second place on 20.1 heading into cross-country.

The 11-year-old U.S.-bred Swedish Warmblood (Mighty Magic x Qui Luma CBF), owned by Ocala Horse Properties and Debbie Palmer, will head to the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event in April like Chin Tonic HS.

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Miks Master C.

“He was good,” she said. “He was a lot of horse today. They're all a bit feral today. All my three-star horses were wild as well. He's gotten a lot better. 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 sort of extra horse. I knew the time was tight enough, so I had to make sure I made the time but was organized at the same time. That's always the challenge with him. He tried really hard, he jumped really well and kind of in his own style. But he's very careful. And he was making a big effort to go higher now; he used to be a bit slithery. And he is a wiggly horse, so that's kind of difficult, too. But he tried really hard.”

Doug Payne and Starr Witness moved into third on their dressage score of 24.6. The 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare (Chello III VDL x Carmen), who he owns with Laurie McRee and Catherine Winter, is Payne’s hope for Pan American Games team selection this summer.

“I think it was a wonderful field,” he said of the new spot for the arena. “I liked it a lot better than the old one. With the tree line it felt like it had a little bit more atmosphere. She is quite careful. Sometimes in the past she has been ultra-careful, and we kind of go sky high in the front and not be quite as good behind, but she’s really finishing behind. I’m trying to do my best to keep her engaged and coming forward. She was very, very good. She is a privilege to ride for sure.”

Doug Payne and Starr Witness.

Payne noted that Donovan’s course was built to spec and quite square, which likely resulted in so few clear rounds.

“The difficult thing about that field is a little bit of undulation, so a bunch of the oxers are off of a little bit of a rollback a little bit uphill, so if the horses got any bit backwards on the turn or were just not connected, they end up weak climbing up to it,” he said. “I think that makes it a lot harder and a bit deceptive.”

Each rider has their own plan for tomorrow over Ian Stark’s cross-country course, but all agreed it looks big, bold and educational as a prep run for their spring three-days.

“We’re going to go out there and give it a strong ride around,” said Coleman. “I kind of want to see how he copes with a course like this. He’s not inexperienced. I plan to go and be competitive. I think it’s a good event to get your horses ready for a five-star if that’s what you are aiming for. For me, it has served me well in the past.

“It is always kind of big,” he continued. “A lot of the questions are consistent with the track from last year, but I think he’s made it slightly more technical, so you just have to be on your toes. He has a lot of big jumps out there, but I think for the most part they actually ride pretty well if you ride them well—so I try to do that!”

Four-star cross-country starts on Saturday 11:48 a.m.

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