When he left the startbox as the final competitor of the $100,000 Conceal Grand-Prix Eventing at Bruce’s Field presented by Taylor, Harris Insurance Services, Will Coleman only had himself to beat, as he was in the enviable position of having his first ride, Off The Record, in second place as his closest rival.

While “Timmy” nearly took the title for himself, it was stablemate and overnight leader Chin Tonic HS who would cement himself the 2024 victor. Hyperion Stud LLC’s “Chin,” a 2012 Holsteiner Gelding (Chin Champ – Wildera, by Quinar), was the undisputed favorite according to Equiratings’ Prediction Centre with a 19% chance at a win, and he delivered in each and every phase, concluding his first trip to Bruce’s Field with a classy clear round 10 seconds over the optimum time. They finished on a result of 30.5.

Waylon Roberts and OKE Ruby R on cross-country.

Waylon Roberts and OKE Ruby R on cross-country at Bruce’s Field at Aiken Horse Park in South Carolina. (Sally Spickard photo)

“I still had a job to do for Chin, you know, to give him a good ride and be responsible about how I took him around,” said the U.S. World Championship Team Silver Medalist. “And this is something we’re using for preparation for things down the road. I probably backed off a little bit, given the fact that I had a little cushion with the time, but I still wanted to go out there and give him a bit of a strong ride so that I could learn and see how he was thinking.”

While it seemed like Coleman’s first ride, the 2009 Irish Sport Horse gelding (Arkansas VDL – Drumagoland Bay, by Ard Ohio) owned by the Off The Record Syndicate, might find this condensed track challenging with his big, bold step, in practice, he soared around effortlessly with the second fastest round of the day just one second over the optimum time. This quick effort moved him from fifth to second place on a score of 33.2.

Coleman, whose last appearance here was in 2019, chose this event carefully because of its unique format. “I think for everyone this is probably a little outside their comfort zone. It’s 28 fences packed into four minutes. You feel like you’re in a tumble dryer. You have to think fast, and the horses have to react,” he said of the condensed cross country experience. “It was helpful – even just the crowds, and some of the technicality that Mark laid out, I do think that there’s something the horses will take away from it that’s very positive.”

Colleen Loach and Vermont jumping a cross-country fence.

Colleen Loach and Vermont. (Sally Spickard photo)

“I do think championships are becoming a bit more like that, and the modern sport is going a little bit more that way,” he continued. “I still really love the five-stars, but this is going to be a part or at least a taste of what the sport might be trending towards. So I was really pleased with both of my guys, and it served its purpose 1,000 percent in coming here. I mean, it’s nice to win as well, but I think even if they hadn’t won, I still feel like I got what I wanted out of coming here.”

2022 winners Boyd Martin and Fedarman B join Coleman on the podium in third place. “Bruno,” the Annie Goodwin Syndicate’s 2010 KWPN Gelding (Eurocommerce Washington – Paulien B, by Fedor) completed Capt. Mark Phillips’ cross country challenge in 10 additional seconds to the encouraging roar of the crowds.

“It took a fair bit of riding actually. I was on three top horses and [Commando 3] sort of misread the corner, but then jumped the rest of the track well, and then [Testserleg] had a bit of a mishap at the bank, but Bruno had a fantastic round,” Martin said. “[Bruno is] such an honest horse. He’s light in the mouth, he’s quick and he’s agile. I sort of went about the speed that I felt comfortable at without sort of taking too many risks.”

Riding along with Martin as they do each year is the ever-growing fan base of Bruno, who was formerly campaigned by Annie Goodwin until her tragic passing in 2021. In the spirit of Annie’s vision and legacy, the Aiken Horse Park Foundation established the Annie Goodwin Rising Star Fund, to foster, support and develop Aiken’s young equestrians who embody Annie’s character and dedication in their respective sports. On Saturday, Isabelle Bosley was recognized as the inaugural recipient of the Annie Goodwin Rising Star Grant.

Team Green, benefitting the Aiken County Pony Club, won the 2024 Ride For Charity Teams Challenge with members Emily Hamel, Will Coleman, Austin O’Connor and Sharon White. Team Purple, which included Boyd Martin, Monica Spencer and Matthew Grayling, finished second, and Team Orange was third.

New Zealander Monica Spencer, who relocated from the southern hemisphere only four weeks ago, earned the Top Rookie award with her and her husband’s ex-racehorse Artist. In addition to finishing fifth on a score of 38.8, “Max” was also recognized as the High Point Thoroughbred Award sponsored by Rebecca T. Newell & William L. Griffin

Liz Halliday was the Leading lady rider sponsored by Ruby Throated Sparrow Halliday finished fourth with Cooley Nutcracker, seventh with Cooley Quicksilver and ninth with Miks Master C.

Irishman Austin O’Connor, who catch-rode the Get Ready Syndicate’s Carlson 119, was selected by his peers as the recipient of the Annie Goodwin Sportsmanship Award.

Results here.