Philidelphia Eagles fans might agree: some days in sport are just picture-perfect, and on Sunday, the other main event of the weekend—the $220,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Wellington CSI3*-W—took place under bright blue skies and a warm sun at the Palm Beach Masters at Deeridge Farms in Wellington, Florida.

The sizable, 14-obstacle course, set by Alan Wade, proved unexpectedly challenging to many riders, with seasoned vets rising to the top of the pack throughout the course of the afternoon. Among them were Margie Goldstein Engle and Royce, competing in their first class back after three months; McLain Ward and HH Callas; top-10 FEI European Championship finishers Danielle Goldstein and Lizziemary; Laura Kraut and Confu; and the youngest rider of the group, 23-year-old Daniel Coyle of Ireland aboard the 12-year-old Holsteiner mare, Cita.

Goldstein and Ward both closed out the second round with a rail a piece, with Goldstein Engle adding one more stride in the first line of the jump-off to take third. In the end, it would be Coyle and Kraut vying for top honors, with Kraut finishing on 35.14, just a few tenths of a second behind Coyle’s 34.79. For her part, Kraut was pleased with 11-year-old Holsteiner Confu’s performance, who, after a few confidence-building years, has only recently stepped up to truly ‘turn on the gas’ in jump-off competition.

Coyle couldn’t have been happier with Ariel Grange’s Cita, who just returned to competition last week in some smaller classes. At the press conference following his win, Coyle was gently ribbed for his mount, who, still coming down from the jump-off, danced her way through the awards ceremony. “I hope she keeps dancing!” Coyle quipped back.

Here are eight things to know about this Irish super-duo: 

  1. Daniel Coyle grew up with horses in County Derry, Ireland, and his family was involved in the sport.
  2. Coyle’s breakout season was WEF 2016 when he began riding horses for Susan and Ariel Grange’s Lothlorien Farm in Canada. His partnership with the Canadian Sporthorse Tennyson helped him climb almost 750(!) spots on the world rankings that winter, and he’s remained the Grange’s rider ever since.
  3. Coyle and Cita were first paired together in January of 2017. “It took me a long time to figure out the way [Cita] likes to go best and the way that she jumps these bigger fences easiest. When she’s on my side, she’ll do her best to jump everything she can, I think that’s what I love most about her,” Coyle said on Sunday.
  4. In his spare time, Daniel enjoys playing the guitar.
  5. Cita was previously paired successfully with Ireland’s Conor Swail, who earned two, four- and five-star wins with her at WEF and Spruce Meadows in 2016.
  6. Cita was sired by Rolf-Göran Bengtsson’s indomitable mount, Casall ASK. She competed against her half-brother, Casall, and rider Ali Wolff in Sunday’s Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Wellington CSI3*-W class.
  7.  Coyle and Cita had a remarkably consistent 2017 season, finishing in the top-10 in no less than 22 classes throughout the year, including a double-clear FEI Nations Cup performance for Ireland at Thunderbird in Langley, B.C., and two CSI5* wins at Spruce Meadows in Alberta.
  8. Until yesterday, Coyle had not considered the 2017/2018 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Finals a possibility. Now, just points away from qualification, however, the Irish rider says he may be reconsidering making a bid. “I think [World Cup Finals] would be a better choice for us [than the World Equestrian Games],” Coyle said. “I feel more comfortable and she feels more comfortable in a tight arena. It doesn’t mean she can’t do [a large field] but I’d like to use her to her advantage and where she is best…instead of asking her to do things that are nearly out of her range. I thought I had no chance of qualifying for the World Cup Finals this year, so things might change. This is exactly show jumping!”

-Photo credit: Meghan Bacso.