DERRY's Daniel Coyle scored a victory in the $50,000 Hermès Under 25 Grand Prix Final riding CHS Krooze on the stunning grass Derby Field at Equestrian Village today (Sunday) as week 11 of the Winter Equestrian Festival ended.
Coyle guaranteed a six-horse jump-off from the final spot in the opening round and again saved the best for last by going clear in a blistering 39.83 seconds over the short course to bump Belgium’s Zoe Conter into second.
“This is my last year in the Under 25 and I think the series has been incredible for me,” said Coyle (24), who started competing in the Hermès Under 25 Grand Prix Series four years ago. “Experiencing this format is a real help for when we’re older.”
Coyle got the ride on CHS Krooze, a nine-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare by Kroongraaf, in December after bringing the mount over from Ireland. He noted: “I didn’t expect her to be at this level already and that just proves that the Under 25 is a real good series for the horses as well.”
Of Petersen’s track, Coyle said, “For me, the toughest thing today was that it was a long way around with a 96-second time allowed. It’s not very often that that happens. I didn’t get to see any of the jump-off, but I was told it was very fast. I have also been told my horse is very fast and we found that to be true today.”
BACK FROM INJURY
More than three seconds behind Coyle, Zoe Conter and Univers du Vinnebus finished second for owner Stephex Stables in 43.52 seconds. Conter is ending her second season at WEF on a high note after a fall last year sidelined her for six months with a broken neck.
“It was really nice for me to have this series to get going again and ride different horses each week in different formats,” said 20-year-old Conter. “Now the goal is this year to try and step up again a little bit to the three-star and four-star to try and get back to where I was last year.”
Conter was also piloting a new mount in Univers du Vinnebus, saying, “The time allowed was really short in a tough first round, but this series has helped me to get to know this horse and trust him. He jumped really great!”
Representing Canada, Alexanne Thibault and her mount Chacco Prime rounded out the podium in third on a time of 44.70 seconds.
The 21-year-old rider commented on a long history with her mount. She said, “We got him in 2016 and the goal was for him to do the 1.40m initially, but he kept on moving up and I’ve been jumping up to the 1.50m with him. He’s so brave, so scopey, and we really have a strong partnership together.
Jessica Mendoza (GBR) took fourth riding Dollar Girl for Fuchs Thomas with a four-fault jump-off round in 40.93 seconds, while Ailish Cunniffe (USA) finished in fifth aboard Baloucento 2, owned by Whipstick Farm Ltd, with a single rail in 42.17 seconds. Cunniffe was leading the Hermès Under 25 Grand Prix Series coming into Sunday’s Final and held on to secure the overall title.