For the second week in a row, Ireland’s Daniel Coyle and his mount, Farona, stood in the winner’s circle following the $35,500 CSI2* Grand Prix, presented by Case IH, on Sunday, May 27, at the Caledon Equestrian Park in Caledon, ON. The pair had won the $35,500 CSI2* Grand Prix, presented by Horseware Ireland, one week earlier during the Caledon National tournament on Sunday, May 20.
Returning for the second week of back-to-back international show jumping competition at the Caledon Equestrian Park, Coyle and Farona again emerged victorious. Course designer Michel Vaillancourt, who earned rave reviews for his tracks at the Caledon Equestrian Park during the 2015 Pan American Games, set a demanding test for the $35,500 CSI2* Grand Prix, presented by Case IH. Featuring an open water, related distances, and a snug time allowed of 82 seconds, the course yielded three clear rounds to set the stage for a thrilling jump-off.
First back to challenge the shortened jump-off track was 10-time Canadian Olympian Ian Millar, 71, of Perth, ON. Partnered with Vittorio 8, a 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Valentino DDH x Ramiro’s Bube) owned by Future Adventures, Millar left all the rails in place in an efficient time of 42.68 seconds to put the pressure on the two young riders still to come.
Coyle, 23, showed no fear and proved he was up to the challenge with Farona. Taking a daring inside turn to the double combination set in front of the spectator pavilion, Coyle saved valuable time and crossed the timers in 40.71, shaving almost two full seconds off Millar’s time to move into the lead.
It was all up to 20-year-old Alexanne Thibault of Boucherville, QC, as the final rider in the jump-off. Riding Chacco Prime, her 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Chacco-Blue x Le Primeur), Thibault sped around the course but when a rail fell three from home, so did her hopes of an international victory. The pair had the fastest jump-off time, 40.49 seconds, but with four faults on their scorecard, they would settle for third.
“I planned to beat Ian,” Coyle said simply of his jump-off strategy. “There was one inside turn to the double that Ian didn’t do. Farona has been competitive all her life so I knew she could do it and I decided to go for it.
“When you’re in that position with a rider still to come after you, there is always the chance you will be beaten,” continued Coyle, who was the defending champion, having also won last year’s CSI2* Grand Prix, presented by Case IH, riding Tienna. “Alexanne was actually very unlucky as she was faster, even though she didn’t do the inside turn.”
Hailing from Northern Ireland, Coyle has been riding for Lothlorien Farm of Cheltenham, ON, for three seasons. Established by Susan Grange, Lothlorien’s show jumping operation has been run by her daughter, Ariel, since her mother’s passing last fall.
“It’s been hard without Sue, we really miss her, but Ariel is doing an excellent job,” said Coyle. “She has taken it all on; the farm, the horses, everything. The horses are going as well as ever. It’s so sad that Sue is gone, but it’s amazing to see her daughter take it over and continue the legacy.”
In fact, Farona is a horse that Sue and Ariel Grange picked out together in the VDL action held during the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, FL, in 2016.
“She is an amazing horse,” said Coyle of the eight-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare (Baltic VDL x Lux). “I’m glad we got her when we did, she’s been wonderful her whole career. I’m looking forward to the future. She’s only eight, but everything we’ve asked her to do, she’s done and done very well. You can’t ask for more than that.”
Coyle now heads west to Thunderbird Show Park in Langley, BC, where he will ride Cita as a member of Irish team in the Longines FEI Nations’ Cup on June 3. From there, it’s on to Calgary, AB, for the four-week Spruce Meadows ‘Summer Series’ where his winning mount, Farona, will be making her debut in the international division.
“The shows at the Caledon Equestrian Park have always been a good warm-up for us before heading out west,” said Coyle. “We were worried we weren’t going to have it this year after the big storm, but the organizers worked really hard and were able to put it back together for us. It’s a great place to compete.”
Erynn Ballard, 37, of Tottenham, ON, is another regular competitor at the Caledon Equestrian Park. As the only two riders to successfully jump the first round clear in Thursday’s $35,500 CSI2* Open Welcome, Ballard posted the winning time of 40.27 to claim victory over Millar who had crossed the timers in 42.84 seconds riding Vittorio 8. Ballard’s mount was Handy van HD, an 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare (Tinka’s Boy x Nabab de Reve) she recently began riding for owners Ilan Ferder and Tal Milstein.
In Saturday’s $35,500 CSI2* Speed competition, Ballard was narrowly beaten by Keean White, 35, of Rockwood, ON. Aboard his new partner Leilani, an eight-year-old grey Oldenburg mare owned by Angelstone Farms and Lisa Marie Gauthier, White posted the fastest time of 66.29 to edge Ballard into second place with a time of 66.63 riding Bella Donna, a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare (Gentleman x Latano) owned by Sagamore Farms.
Show jumping competition continues throughout the 2018 season at the Caledon Equestrian Park with the next FEI competition, the CSI2* Caledon Premier, taking place from August 8 to 12. The tournament is one of four FEI competitions hosted this year by competition organizer Equestrian Management Group.
For more information on the CSI2* Classic at Palgrave Phase II, including full results and a full competition schedule, please visit www.caledonequestrianpark.com.
$35,500 CSI2* Open Welcome – Thursday, May 24
1. Erynn Ballard, Handy van HD 0:0 40.27
2. Ian Millar, Vittorio 8 0:0 42.84
3. Elisa Reisman, Citizenguard Cadjanine Z 0:4 40.74
4. Beth Underhill, Count Me In 0:4 41.85
5. Ian Millar, Truman 0:4-45.96
$35,500 CSI2* Table A Speed – Saturday, May 26
1. Keean White, Leilani 0-66.29
2. Erynn Ballard, Bella Donna 0-66.63
3. Susan Horn, Balintore 0-67.71
4. Vanessa Mannix, Hey Jude 0-67.83
5. Jonathon Millar, Hanna van HD 0-68.25
$35,500 CSI2* Grand Prix, Presented by Case IH – Sunday, May 27
1. Daniel Coyle, Farona 0:0-40.71
2. Ian Millar, Vittorio 8 0:0-42.68
3 Alexanne Thibault, Chacco Prime 0:4-40.49
4. Keean White, Leilani 4
5. Hyde Moffatt, Granturo 4