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Showjumping returns to Lurgan as Coyle sparkles in US


Jordan Coyle

There was great delight this week as showjumping training shows returned at the Meadows Equestrian Centre in Lurgan, where leading international and national showjumpers were committed to getting their horses fit again.

There are strict protocols in place due to the ongoing threat of coronavirus, including hygiene stations, disinfected fences, social distancing and stewards to keep watch. Masks are also being worn by staff.

Pony training days have been allocated at Lurgan for June 14, 21 and 28 with all entries found online, as are course plans, start lists and times.

Centre manager Aaron McCusker explained: "Our opening day went very well this week. Riders were delighted to get their horses out. We operate under strict rules with a much larger warm-up arena with two sets of warm-up fences and only one groom allowed.

"Everyone knows this is a crucial time and the riders really care about doing this correctly. Our staff are trained in protocol and no stone has been left unturned in keeping everyone safe."

As equestrian sport re-opens slowly on our shores, the US is already up and running for competition at top level and Londonderry's Jordan Coyle scored a hat-trick at the HITS show in Wayne, Illinois.

Coyle had kept his team ticking over since March and came out on top to win three classes at the Lamp Light Equestrian Centre Spring Spectacular show under strict protocols.

Not only did Coyle claim the $5,000 (£3,900) June Classic with new horse Ariso, he was third on P and F Cordillo Z and went on to win the $10,000 (£7,800) June Prix on board Warnike.

Coyle continued to dominate by taking first and second in the $50,000 (£39,000) HITS Grand Prix, producing the fastest jump-off round on Warnike in 37.94,and taking second on Ariso in 40.29.

His brother Daniel returned home to help on the family farm in Londonderry. A multiple winner on the North American showjumping circuit last year, he said: "I was lucky to get home before lockdown. I have been busy here with young horses and hope to return to the US at a later date. We are delighted that Jordan came out in winning form as the sport has opened slowly. Everyone is adhering to the rules and I am pleased training shows have started in Ireland."

Paul O'Shea and Squirt Gun won the Horselinc Grand Prix from 59 starters in Wellington, Florida, again under strict protocols.

O'Shea said: "It's incredible to get to jump here. I have another National Grand Prix this weekend then we head to Kentucky, three weeks in Tryon and three weeks in Michigan."

Dungannon's Eamon Rice, Chair of Showjumping Ireland, has welcomed the news that Horsesport Ireland and Showjumping Ireland will resume their Premier Series and Irish Sporthorse Studbook series from June 29.

He said: "This is a lifeline to our industry during what has been a very difficult time."

Belfast Telegraph