Once upon a time, not so very long ago, at the farm to the north called Lothlorien, the very grand dreams of Irish show jumper Daniel Coyle began to take shape.
Back in 2015, Coyle, then 22, was just a horseless rider from across the pond; one of his mounts had died, and one of his main owners had left the sport. With high hopes but few prospects, he placed a call to horse dealer Barry O’Connor for help. In that way, word eventually got ‘round to Lorthlorien’s then-rider Conor Swail, who made Coyle an offer he had no inclination to refuse:
Come apprentice under Swail for a year, and if things worked out, the fellow Irishman would hand him the proverbial keys to the car. (Swail was leaving amicably to pursue his own career goals.)
Knowing he had stumbled into the doorway of his dream job, Coyle soon found himself on a plane bound for Wellington, Florida, and the winter base of Sue and Ariel Grange’s Lothlorien Farm. With hard work, talent—and maybe those trademark sunglasses—Coyle quickly proved himself worthy of the gig. His profile has risen dramatically since that winter of 2016, and so has his place in the world rankings.
Thanks largely in part to his fast partnership with the Canadian Sport Horse gelding, Tennyson, Coyle climbed 745 points in the Longines rankings in just a handful of months. According to Jumpr App, he also made well over €200,000 in the span of that year, winning three out of his first four classes with Tennyson, and going on to represent Ireland at the Furuyissa FEI Nations Cup at Thunderbird Show Park. There, during the first Nations Cup outing for both horse and rider, the pair posted one of only three double-clears that day.
One year later, Coyle was making strides aboard horses such as Simba De La Roque, Tienna, and Fortis Fortuna, and more than doubled his 2016 prize money.
Then, on a breakout evening in 2018, Coyle logged the biggest win of his career to date aboard Swail’s former ride, Cita, in the Douglas Elliman Real Estate Grand Prix CSI5* under the lights (and a massive downpour) in Wellington, FL.
By that time, he’d been permanently installed as Lothlorien’s head rider, and was rewarded with a string of talented new horses to begin moving up the ranks. One of them was the then-8-year-old Zangersheide mare, Legacy—a horse that, under Coyle’s careful hand, would soon become a mainstay in his string.
Coyle didn’t show Legacy in a single FEI class above 1.45m during her 8-year-old year (2018) and jumped primarily at the 1.45–1.50m the following year. By 2020, the pair competed in just a handful of classes at 1.60m, but finished in the top-10 an impressive 67% of the time (Jumpr App). Two of those included fifth and tenth place finishes in 1.60m CSI5* Saturday Night Lights grands prix at WEF—results which would be a harbinger of things to come.
The 2022 season was Coyle and Legacy’s best to date, finishing fourth at the ECCO FEI World Championships in Herning, Denmark, and notching big wins from Major League Show Jumping (MLSJ) Thermal and the Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) to Longines FEI World Cup™ qualifier wins in Fort Worth, Texas and Toronto, Ontario.
They also proved to be invaluable performers for #TeamIreland, helping the Irish to a third-place finish at the CSIO5* Nations Cup in Rotterdam, Netherlands; and first place at the CSIO5* Nations Cup at Thunderbird Show Park in Langley, BC.
That year, the pair wrapped up their 11 classes together at 1.60m with a 73% clear rate (yes, you read that right). But more than that, they were fast, finishing in the top-10 an unprecedented 89% of the time (Jumpr App).
“Legacy had to learn to go fast, and thankfully, now, I think she’s one of the faster horses I have,” Coyle has said. “The way the sport has [evolved], you have to be able to go so fast. In the beginning, [Legacy] was always fast, but she didn’t really understand what she was doing.”
Clearly, she’s learned.
Though their 2023 season has proven to be less lucrative so far (more than €121,000 in prize money compared to more than €410,000 in 2022), for this particular mare, who thrives indoors, there’s still plenty of big-money classes left to jump. And, thanks to Lothlorien, Coyle also has one of the deepest benches in the sport.
So deep, in fact, that he currently has at least four horses jumping at the 1.50m level or above. Among them is the 10-year-old KWPN mare, Ivory TCS, who took the CSIO4* JTWG Grand Prix at WEF this winter, and added a hat trick of 1.50m wins at MLSJ Toronto and MLSJ Ottawa, respectively, in August. This week, the 13-year-old KWPN gelding, Quintin, finished third with Coyle in the CSI5* American Gold Cup Grand Prix.
The end result? In just eight years, Coyle has come from relative ranking-list obscurity to #13 in the world—and don’t expect him to stop there.
“I always want to win,” Coyle told Horse Network during one of his first interviews back in 2016. “Whatever I ride, I want it to get better every time.”
If nothing else, it seems, Daniel Coyle is a man of his word.