A commanding performance from Londonderry’s Jordan Coyle saw him land the first five-star Grand Prix win of his career on Saturday night at Desert Horse Park, Thermal, California.
Riding the Elan Farm-owned Ariso, Coyle took the lion’s share of the $230,000 prize fund, finishing more than six seconds ahead of McLain Ward (USA) and Kasper Van Het Hellehof who were the only other double clears.
Adrienne Sternlicht (USA) took third place with one fence down in the jump-off aboard Benny’s Legacy.
Speaking afterwards, Coyle was thrilled to finally land a five-star Grand Prix win after coming close on a number of occasions.
“I can’t believe it. I actually never thought it would happen. I’ve been jumping this level now for a few years and I’ve never won a five-star Grand Prix,” he said.
“It’s been bothering me a lot because I’ve been close quite a few times.
The one that haunts me the most is the first week of Spruce Meadows in the $500,000 CSI5*.
“There were five clear rounds, I think: me, Conor Swail, Eric Lamaze, Beezie Madden and Steve Guerdat.
“I had the fastest time with one down and finished fourth. That one haunts me big time.
“It would’ve been a massive achievement for that horse, Eristov. That was the closest.”
Coyle had this to say about his mount Ariso: “He was pretty good, and very good today.
“He was unlucky here on Thursday, but he jumped brilliantly here tonight.
“He’s very strong but he gives you a great sensation over the jump.
“The strategy for the jump-off is I didn’t really have one.
With horses like that, like I don’t think you can. You kind of have to ride them off more of a feel.
“Sometimes you should add a stride. Sometimes you should leave out a stride.
“Sometimes he can jump really high and it doesn’t always work out so well because sometimes he jumps too high and then you have to put on more pressure and then he can get strong.
“Today he was just nice and easy.”