Wellington, Fla. – March 10, 2018 – Despite a rainy forecast, the show must go on, and on Saturday night 40 of the world’s best show jumping athletes braved the elements for a shot at claiming top honors in the $384,000 Douglas Elliman Grand Prix CSI5*, highlighting Week Nine of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). Emerging victorious for Ireland was 23-year-old Daniel Coyle and Cita as the only pair to jump completely fault-free throughout the night’s first and second rounds of competition.
Course designer Alan Wade of Ireland built a challenging 14-fence opening track, which required a great deal of adjustability and precision over the slick conditions to faultlessly maneuver the winding bending lines, open water obstacle, tight rollbacks, triple combination (triple bar-vertical-oxer), double combination (vertical-oxer) and fragile verticals before galloping over the final oxer.
While rails fell all over the course, many horses and athletes struggled as six combinations were eliminated or retired from the first round. Yet six were also able to successfully navigate the course to advance to the jump-off.
As the first four horses and athletes collected faults over the short course, Coyle, who was second to last in the order-of-go, focused primarily on jumping clear with the 11-year-old Holsteiner mare, even with Brazil’s Rodrigo Lambre and Coleman, owned by Mario Onate, still to come behind them.
In the end, even with one of the slowest times in the jump-off, Coyle’s careful, clear round garnered him first place, as Lambre finished with 4 faults in 41.62 seconds, which was good enough for third place. Second to return for the jump-off was Brazil’s Rodrigo Pessoa and Chaganus, owned by Pessoa Stables LLC, who took home second place honors with 4 faults and the fastest time of the jump-off in 39.59 seconds.
Coyle and Ariel Grange and Lothlorien’s Cita have been partnered together for just over a year and recently clinched the $220,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Wellington CSI3*-W at the Palm Beach Masters at the start of February. After some trouble during Nations Cup week at HITS Ocala, the pair took some time to finesse their training before returning to the show ring for the CSI5* at WEF. Their hard work paid off as they were the only pair to confidently complete both of Saturday’s courses for the top prize.
Saturday’s top finish proves that Coyle and Cita can hold their own against the best in the world, and although Coyle believes Cita is best suited to compete at the upcoming World Cup Finals in Paris in April if they are able to qualify, the chance of representing Ireland at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ is also still a possibility.
The fourth and final CSI5* competition of the 2018 Winter Equestrian Festival will conclude the three-month-long circuit during Week Twelve with the biggest event of the season, the $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI5*, taking place on Saturday, March 31.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Daniel Coyle – $384,000 Douglas Elliman Grand Prix CSI5* winner
On Saturday’s win:
“I suppose I had a big advantage tonight — being second to last made a big difference. Obviously, Rodrigo [Pessoa] was going to be fast so getting to see him go first always makes any class easier. My plan was to be clear no matter what because there weren’t any yet so it worked out well for me. It’s really exciting; it probably hasn’t sunk in yet. That’s my first grand prix 5* win. There’s no where better to do it than here.”
On the rain:
“It makes a difference, but when you go in the ring, you kind of forget about it. When you come out of the ring and go back through your round, you realize it probably did play a part, but at the time, you have to forget about the rain and try to get on with the job that you’re trying to do.”
On the courses:
“I’m starting to like Alan Wade more and more! It was very, very clever. When I walked the course, I talked to him a little bit and I said to him, ‘You’re being clever again.’ All of these big verticals and scopey combinations require you to be really careful. It takes a horse that understands the rider and understands himself to jump that type of course. I got caught on a triple bar in Ocala a few weeks ago. It was a triple bar into a combination. I said I was going to practice that when we came back from Ocala and it showed tonight.”
On his plans for Cita:
“I’ll probably do the last week here, and then she’ll have a month off but I’m not really sure. In further weeks time, I’ll go to Langley and do the Nations Cup if the chef d’équipe allows me. Then I’ll do Spruce Meadows, and we’ll see where we go from there. That’s my plan as of now.”
Rodrigo Pessoa – Second place
“I have to say, the horse has been coming along pretty well. It’s a horse that I started riding last June, and last year was pretty busy with the Irish team so I didn’t get to show very much. I showed a little bit more in October in Tryon. He was still not going the way I wanted, but he still won a nice class. Then I had all this time until WEF started to work on him and practice the things that were a little bit difficult. He’s a very keen horse. He’s a real trier and he’s very, very careful. He has a big heart. For a couple of weeks now, he’s been going well and he’s been improving every time. Last week he jumped clear in the 4* grand prix and he won the 2* the previous week. So I thought, ‘Since he’s jumping well, I’m going to keep going one more week and push it a little bit,’ and he responded really well. The conditions were not perfect, and he really gave everything in the first round. I’m really happy with his performance. It’s bright for the future.”
On his performances on Saturday and finishing second:
“The rain was a little distracting for us, and for the horses as well. [Chaganus] coped very well. He jumped a really good clear in the first round. Then going in the beginning of the jump-off, you kind of have to risk it a little bit because there are still really good riders to come. [With Chaganus], the combination of vertical-oxer is a fence in particular that we’ve had some problems with. I thought that what we did was a little bit dangerous, but I had to risk it and try not to leave the door open. In the end, he’s been jumping so well and I’m really pleased with the result. I’m happy with a second place.”
On competing against the Irish as Ireland’s chef d’équipe:
“I’m usually always rooting for the Irish more than anyone else, but in a class like today, we’re individuals and we’re still competitors. I was hoping that [Daniel] would have a little mistake here or there but he didn’t. It’s a great combination. They’ve proven themselves at the big levels already. They won at Deeridge [Farms] a couple of weeks ago and won today in good style. If I didn’t get to win, I’m happy that one of my lads got to take it.”
Rodrigo Lambre – Third place
“He hasn’t had much 5* experience. I’ve had him since last summer and before that he was ridden by Mario Onate, who’s my partner and boss. My first good result was in Ocala in the Nations Cup when I was clear with one down in the second round. That proved that he has what it takes. I’m really happy with the result.”
$384,000 Douglas Elliman Grand Prix CSI5*:
Place / Horse / Athlete / Country / Owner / R1 Faults / R2 Faults / Time
1. Cita / Daniel Coyle / IRL / Ariel Grange and Lothlorien / 0 / 0 / 42.51
2. Chaganus / Rodrigo Pessoa / BRA / Pessoa Stables LLC / 0 / 4 / 39.59
3. Coleman / Rodrigo Lambre / BRA / Mario Onate / 0 / 4 / 41.62
4. Contendros 2 / Andres Azcarraga / MEX / Jaime Azcarraga and Family / 0 / 8 / 39.60
5. Dsarie / Beat Mändli / SUI / Grant Road Partners GMBH / 0 / 8 / 42.76
6. Daisy / Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum / GER / Artemis Equestrian Farm / 0 / EL / EL
7. Lizziemary / Danielle Goldstein / ISR / The Golden Group and Danielle Goldstein / 4 / 79.30
8. Sancha LS / Daniel Bluman / ISR / Daniel Bluman LLC / 4 / 80.00
9. HH Azur / McLain Ward / USA / Double H Farm and François Mathy / 4 / 80.52
10. Royce / Margie Engle / USA / Gladewinds Farm Inc. / 4 / 80.55
11. Indra Van De Oude Heihoef / Shane Sweetnam / IRL / The Blue Buckle Group / 4 / 81.55
12. Winning Good / Ben Maher / GBR / Poden Farms / 4 / 82.07
For full results, click here.