Wellington, Fla.—Mar. 24
Daniel Coyle is one rider you don’t want behind you in a jump-off order. No matter the horse, footing or venue, Coyle is a master of the turn-and-burn, so it’s only fitting that he didn’t walk away empty-handed in the $50,000 Hermes U25 Series Final, the last U25 event of his career before aging out.
“I think the series here has been incredible for me,” Coyle said of the division held at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida. “It’s only now that it’s over for me [that] I understand how good it was for me to have this format with your warm-up class and then the grand prix, and the semi-finals and finals. That’s a real help for whenever we’re older.”
Coyle, 24, aboard the 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare CHS Krooze, was one of six combinations in the jump-off. They produced the winning time of 39.831 seconds, more than 3 seconds faster than second-place finishers Zoe Conter and the Stephex Stables-owned Univers Du Vinnebus.
“My horse is from a friend in Ireland, and I didn’t expect her to be at this level already,” said Coyle, who got the ride on CHS Krooze at the beginning of the Wellington circuit. “That just proves that the U25 is a real good series. I’m very happy.”
Conter, who rides for Belgium-based Stephex Stables, is spending her second consecutive winter in Wellington. She got the ride on Univers Du Vinnebus at the start of WEF, which was her first competition since sustaining an injury in May 2018.
“[In 2018] I was at a show in Rome, a five-star, and I fell in a combination and I broke my neck,” Conter said. “I had surgery, and I was out for like six months. I just started riding again in October.
“This has been great for me to get back going and showing every week with different horses,” she continued. “For me, my goal is this year to try and step up again a little bit to the three-star, four-star, and try and improve and get back to where I was last year.”
Alexanne Thibault and Chacco Prime closed out the podium placings in third. Ailish Cunniffe, who finished fifth aboard Baloucento 2, took home the overall circuit rider honors for the U25 division.
“I’ve been competing in this series for five years now; it is amazing,” said Cunniffe. “It’s always been a goal of mine to be overall. I’ve always been taught that consistency is key, so being consistent and doing the same program that we do every time; trying not to let the nerves get to you, especially today, was a little nerve-wracking.”
Check out some of the favorite moments captured during the $50,000 Hermes U25 Series Final, below: