On Thursday, Ireland’s Jordan Coyle scored one of his biggest victories in the United States to date. And he has American show jumper Andy Kocher to thank.
The 24-year-old Irish rider rode Eristov, a horse owned by Kocher, to victory in the $35,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup Round One at the 2018 Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, FL. Thirty-six horse and rider combinations contested the class.
The show marks the debut competition for the pair since Coyle took over the ride in October. Previously, the 2009 KWPN gelding was on a long break. (Read: presumably injured.) His last appearance in a CSI* was in December 2016.
“I had no idea what to expect,” said Coyle.
“The horse this week jumped a few smaller classes. That was his first big class ever—he’s never jumped that big before. I knew he was good enough to jump it and after the first round, I was just happy with that.”
Fourth in the order for the 11 horse jump off (10 returned to contest it), Coyle and Eristov left out strides in the first line and to the double combination to shave three hundredths of a second off the very quick time set by Todd Minikus (USA) and Victorio 5. Coyle stopped the clock at 37.662 seconds to Minikus’s 37.999 seconds.
“The jump-off was one of those rounds where everything just worked out. I’d say if I did it another ten times it would never happen like that again, so I suppose you could say it was luck,” said Coyle. “It wasn’t easy, but it suited him because he has such a big jump and a big step.”
Eristov isn’t the first horse collaboration for Coyle and Kocher. The Irish rider previously rode a horse named Chuckles for the American rider.
“I call him and ask for a horse and so far he’s always sent me pretty good ones. Andy has been very good to me. I’m very lucky; he’s an unbelievable horse,” said Coyle.
“I’ve said all along since I’ve had him that he’s the only horse I have ever had that gives you total belief he’s not going to knock a jump. That’s something that I have never had before—I’m very lucky.”
Coyle is a resident rider at Old Salem Farm in Old Salem, NY. His brother Daniel Coyle is also a professional horse rider.