IRISH riders have consistently delivered five-star Grand Prix victories week in week out in 2022 and Derry’s Daniel Coyle is the latest rider to continue that exceptional run of form with a win in last Sunday’s $217,200 five-star Grand Prix at Thermal in California, where Conor Swail finished second.
From a startlist of 33, only four combinations managed to keep a clean sheet over the first 1.60m round. Riding Ariel Grange’s 12-year-old mare Legacy, Coyle was first to take on the shortened jump-off track. He started off with a good pace but was lucky when giving the second vertical a hard rub, and more luck was required at the MJLS oxer. In the end, the talented mare crossed the finish line in 35.13 seconds to set the standard.
Canada’s Sean Tobin was next to go and he too was clear with Darius, in a slower time of 43.68, which was eventually be good enough for third. Swail was third to take it on with Mannon Farm’s nine-year-old stallion Nadal Hero & DB and the pair put in a classy round, never racing for the time to slot into second place in 38.33.
Last to go, Canada’s Amy Millar was the only other rider in the jump-off with Truman but the pair picked up eight faults to finish fourth.
“Legacy has been phenomenal for me since we bought her as an eight-year-old,” Coyle said afterwards of the Chippendale Z x Bon Ami mare. “I produced her as a championship horse but after the World Championships we changed course and decided to try to win some Grand Prix. She’s getting better and better and I’m getting to know her better in jump-offs also. I cannot say enough good things about her. I’m really, really happy Ariel Grange bought her for me.”
Swail is moving Mannon Farm’s Nadal Hero & DB up the ranks, exposing him to more top competition and proving he has another top contender in his incredibly strong string. “I’m absolutely delighted with my horse,” Swail, ranked number five in the world, remarked. “He’s progressing so well, he’s doing all the right things, he’s learning from his mistakes, and I am super delighted with second place.”
Sixth place also went to Limerick’s Paul O’Shea after he produced the fastest four-fault first round with Imerald Van’t Voorhof.
Two-star Grand Prix
A day earlier, Coyle and the Ariel Grange-owned Jeffrey Jarden raced to victory in the two-star Grand Prix at the venue following a 10-horse jump-off.
“We bought him last year at the Hendrix auction and I only started riding him a few months ago,” Coyle said of his winning eight-year-old mount. “I went to a three-star in Kentucky and my first horse wasn’t performing very well so I decided to jump [Jeffrey] in the Grand Prix and we got third place. So I thought maybe this horse is better than we first originally thought. From that point forward he’s been great in every FEI class he’s been in.”
Coyle finished 0.28 of a second ahead of Israeli runner-up Ashlee Bond with Chill MA, while Daniel’s brother Jordan Coyle took third spot with Costa Diam.
Coyle concluded an amazing week by also winning Sunday’s $72,400 Talus Winning Round with his own and Grange’s Ivory TCS.
“I’m extremely lucky because having even one of these horses is great,” Coyle added. “Ariel has stuck by me and it’s really a testament to her as to why I’m here. Right now everything seems to be on fire. I have a really, really strong string right now. I really thank her for that.”