Sometimes, all you need is a chance might well be the story of Daniel Coyle’s career.
It also sums up the Irish rider’s latest result with Lothlorien Farm’s Legacy on Thursday at the Royal Horse Show in Toronto, ON.
As one of six combinations in the field of 22 to advanced to the second round in the Mad Barn Big Ben International Challenge, things were looking bleak for Coyle and the rest of the startlist after notorious speedster Kent Farrington (USA) found a new gear with the 9-year-old OS mare, Greya.
“Kent didn’t turn inside to the second-last fence, so there was obviously a window or an option [there, which was] faster,” Coyle said. “I knew that I just had to try and do something similar, and turn inside to the last question. Thankfully, it was just enough.”
‘Just enough’ was good for a time of 35.72 seconds, pipping Farrington (36.75) on designer Kelvin Bywater (GBR)’s 1.55m track. Farrington took second; Beat Mändli (SUI) and Desarie were third on 37.03.
“It probably wasn’t the smoothest run I’ve ever had [on her], or any horse for that matter,” Coyle joked, “But she’s such a fighter.”
Having produced the 13-year-old Zangersheide mare over five seasons, Coyle has the luxury of knowing that, sometimes, Legacy just needs a minute. After a comparably lackluster start in Toronto following a few, less-than-Legacy-worthy classes in Kentucky, Coyle entered the mare in an extra 1.45m round at the Royal on Wednesday.
“I don’t get so worried about [the results], because I know it takes her a show or two shows to get up to speed with the ring, and that’s why I actually I jumped her yesterday,” Coyle explained. “Usually, when she’s going, I wouldn’t bother, but the more she does, the more she relaxes and enjoys it.”
Thursday marked an important victory for Coyle for multiple reasons, the first being that Toronto is near-home for Lothlorien owner Ariel Grange. The second is that Coyle and Legacy are the reigning champions in the Royal’s hallmark class: the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Toronto. With Grange herself in the stands this weekend, the Irish rider has his eye on the prize once again on Saturday.
“When we won the World Cup here last year that felt like the biggest thing I ever did, because obviously, this is Ariel’s [local show], so any win here is brilliant. [And now], to win the Big Ben—I hope [we] do the same on Saturday.
“Last year, nobody expected me to win,” Coyle added, “But this year, they’ll be saying, ‘That horse won last year,’ so for sure, there will be more pressure.”
Currently ranked at no. 12 in the world, Coyle says he owes Grange for the opportunity to prove himself, and to select and produce a horse like Legacy and the rest of his string.
Related reading: This Is What Daniel Coyle Came For
“It’s a huge achievement. It’s not something I actually chase because sometimes you end up jumping the wrong class for the horse. I actually haven’t jumped in a month. So it’s really impressive that now I’m 12th in the world,” said Coyle.
“But yeah, none of it was really planned. We just have more horses jumping at a higher level and better.”
With an eye on bringing horses to compete at CHI Geneva this year (December 6-10), Coyle hopes his luck continues—beginning with Saturday’s World Cup qualifier in Toronto. And he’s not taking a moment of it for granted.
“Lots of people produce horses, and still don’t get it [right]. I’ve been lucky enough that Ariel and me are talented enough to pick the right horses,” Coyle adds. “I hope it keeps going.”