Third class ever. Second to go. First place to finish.
Daniel Coyle (IRL) and Simba de la Roque Coyle jumped to the top of the leaderboard in the $35,000 CP Welcome Stake CSI3* Section B at the CP Palm Beach Masters in Wellington, Florida on Thursday.
It was their third FEI class together and the only one the 11-year-old Selle Français gelding will jump this week.
“[Simba] is only jumping one class here, so my plan the whole time was to try to win the class on him. Unfortunately, I was second to go so it made it a little harder,” said Coyle.
“I had a plan from the start and I just stuck to it.”
That plan put them more than four and half seconds faster than third place finisher, Yuri Mansur. By the end of 48 rounds, the only rider to get close to Coyle’s time on Simba was Coyle on Cita.
He took over the ride on both horses at the end of December.
“All these horses are relatively new to me. I’m trying to figure out which ones go best for me and how big and how much I can get out of them,” said Coyle.
“Every horse goes a little bit different. For me, I like to try and ride the horse the way it feels most comfortable instead of trying to make it something different. So, it always takes me a little longer because I don’t try to change the horse.”
The 22-year-old is tentatively aiming Grafton, the horse he rode to a fifth place finish in Section A of the Welcome Stake, at the World Cup Final in Omaha, Nebraska in April.
“Right now, I’m kind of planning on Grafton and I’m not planning any further than that because I don’t really know the horses as well as I’d like. I don’t want to make any wrong decisions,” he explained.
For the moment, he’s just taking it all in.
“I have incredible owners and have had incredible support—everybody from Sue and Ariel Grange to the grooms, even the people from home, from Facebook. It’s been an incredible year for me from this time last year—it’s kind of unbelievable for me to take it all in.”
Adam Prudent and Vasco (USA) took top honors in Section A of the $35,0000 Welcome Stake, followed by Laura Kraut and Confu in second and Andrew Ramsay and Stranger, third.
The show jumping action continues tomorrow with the $35,000 LONGINES FEI World Cup Qualifier at 12:30pm EST. Catch it on the livestream at palmbeachmasters.com.