A brilliant performance from Ireland's Daniel Coyle and the Ariel Grange-owned mare Legacy saw them claim victory in last night’s Longines FEI World Cup Grand Prix at Toronto in Canada, after they produced the only double clear of the five-star contest.
The 100th anniversary of Toronto's Royal Agricultural Winter Fair held special meaning for the Irish rider, as he works out of nearby Lothlorien Farm.
"That’s maybe why I was trying so hard to get something to happen, and nothing was," he said. "I couldn’t jump clear in any class, on every different horse."
But things came together for him in the event’s feature competition and the fourth leg of the 2022-2023 North American League season. Coyle and Legacy produced the only double-clear performance to claim victory over a three-horse jump-off in a winning time of 37.02 seconds. Israel's Daniel Bluman (ISR) and Gemma W finished second for the second time this season (4/39.21), with Tiffany Foster and Northern Light, representing the hosts, third (9/44.23).
"Any time I’ve went in the jump-off, Legacy can be very fast, but I haven’t done that many where I’ve been really fast and go as fast as possible. I thought, 'I’ll try to leave it a little harder for [Bluman] tonight,’ and thankfully [we] had it."
Course designer Michel Vaillancourt set a stiff first round test, with rails falling throughout the 1.60m track. Before the shortened course, Coyle received advice from fellow Irishman Conor Swail who has already secured World Cup wins this season at Sacramento and Washington. On this occasion, Swail was kept from the jump-off, finishing seventh with Count Me In.
"If it’s not me winning, I like to think I want him to win and visa versa," Coyle said of Swail, a close friend and former employer. "We were just talking, and the last thing I said was, ‘Is the main thing [to go] clear, or do I need to be quick as well?’ And he said, ‘No, you need to be fast.'"
Coyle has moved up to third in the NAL standings with 32 points, behind Swail with 50 points. Bluman has moved into the lead with 54 points.
At Monterrey in Mexico, Cork's Shane Sweetnam and Birdy du Thot scored a win in the five-star 1m50 speed class with a winning time of 60.48. At the same venue, Kilkenny’s Richie Moloney (Coco Beach) and Limerick’s Paul O’Shea (Squirt Gun) were part of the Eye Candy team that took victory in the Major League Show Jumping competition.
There was also a five-star win back in Europe on Friday for Galway’s Jessica Burke and Impluss at the Stuttgart Masters in Germany.