THE rain may have pelted down but that didn't stop Daniel Coyle from scoring his biggest ever career win with victory in the $384,000 Florida five-star Grand Prix.
Riding through torrential rain at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Florida, USA, Ireland’s Daniel Coyle and Cita produced the only double clear round of the competition to claim the $384,000 Douglas Elliman Real Estate five-star Grand Prix in the early hours of this morning (Sunday) – while Irish show jumping team manager Rodrigo Pessoa took the runner-up spot on the podium.
The rain started early on Saturday evening and never let up throughout the entirety of the competition, but it didn’t stop six of the 40 entries from jumping clear in the first round to make it into the jump-off, over the course designed by Tipperary’s Alan Wade who is also the course designer for this year’s FEI World Equestrian Games in Tryon, USA in September.
Coyle and Cita, a 12-year-old mare owned by Ariel Grange and Lothlorien Farm, were second last to go against the clock and they recorded what proved to be the only double clear round in a time of 42.51 seconds.
“I suppose I had a big advantage tonight,” said Coyle of his second last position in the jump-off. “My plan was to be clear no matter what because there weren’t any at that time, so it worked out well for me.”
The joy on Coyle’s face was evident following his winning round. “It’s really exciting,” he said. “It probably hasn’t sunk in yet, but that is, I think, my first Grand Prix five-star win. There’s nowhere better to do it than here.”
Second place went to Rodrigo Pessoa on Chaganus, owned by Pessoa Stables. They had a rail down in the double combination and finished in a time of 39.59 seconds.
“Going in the beginning of the jump-off, you kind of have to risk a little bit because there are still really good riders to come,” said Pessoa, who will return to Europe next month as his Irish team begin their European Nations Cup campaign at Samorin in Slovakia. “This is a fence in particular that I’ve had a little bit of problems with him – the combination vertical and oxer. I thought that was a little bit dangerous, but I had to risk it and try not to leave the door open.”
Another Brazilian rider, Rodrigo Lambre with Coleman, finished third with four faults on a time of 41.62 seconds.
Daniel Coyle’s win comes on the back of another victory for the 23-year-old at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Florida last Wednesday. Coyle’s consistently impressive results since moving across the Atlantic two years ago have seen him climb to 41st in the latest World Rankings announced last week.