WELLINGTON, Fla.-- Daniel Coyle of Ireland rode Cita to beat U.S. Olympic veterans Laura Kraut and Margie Engle to win the $220,000 World Cup qualifying class at Deeridge Farms on Feb. 4 at the Palm Beach Masters CSI3* .
"It’s an amazing feeling to be with any one of these two girls and every one of the five that were in the jump-off, which never makes it any easier when the riders were as good as they were," said Coyle. "I had seen Margie’ s round and I thought that’s going to be hard to beat, never mind McLain and Laura coming behind me. I’m just happy to have won today."
Five of the 40 competitors made it to the jump-off, which began with Israel’s Danielle Goldstein and Lizziemary, who had a rail down, leaving Goldstein in fourth place and opening the door for the remaining four.
Margie Engle and Royce were clear in 35.30 seconds for third place., but she thought that she could have made up some time in the early part of the course.
“In hindsight, I probably should have done six strides down the first line," said Engle. "It’s his first class back, so I was a little bit cautious down the first line. He picked it up and he finished great so I was very happy with him.”
Coyle was third out of the five in the jump-off, and he thought his position in the jump-off was the key to his victory, clearing the course in a speedy time of 34.79 seconds.
"I THINK the order that I had played a good part, it made a big difference,” said Coyle. “I was right in the middle of five very good jumpers. Margie gave a very, very good ride. I don’t think there was much difference in time. Margie had done seven down the first line and I had done six, and I think that’s the only place that I got her. That put a little pressure on me to be fast and obviously I put a little pressure on the people behind me and it worked out my way.”
McLain Ward followed Coyle on HH Callas and was on track for a clear until he knocked down the second fence of the double, leaving him in fifth place, and only Laura Kraut left to try to take the title away from Coyle.
Kraut and Confu were fast and clear and it was a question as to whether it was fast enough for the win.
“I listened to the announcer and he made it sound that possibly I had done it, but then he said not quite," said Kraut. "I saw Margie go and she was flying, I didn’t see Daniel go because I was walking up to the arena, but I know how fast he is and how quick his horse is. I really felt that I could have done one less stride to the third jump. He turned so fast that I had to catch up to him, so I think that made us a bit slow. When it's three tenths of a second,it’s a blink of an eye, you don’t know, I wish I had done something, but I’m pleased to be sitting at the head table."
Kraut finished second after stopping the clock at 35.14 seconds.
“I just want to reiterate that everyone, including my clients, say this is the best and nicest event we go to all year,” said Engle. "They have all done an amazing job.”
“It’s very much a family affair, we are all really proud to be able to share this venue with everyone," said Lou Jacobs, Co-President of the Palm Beach Masters. "The family involvement goes back to Gene Mische and it's nice for us. It’s part of our legacy in the sport to be able to host this event. We’re really pleased that everyone had a good time.”
Prior to the start of the Grand Prix, a special ceremony was held to honor the memory of Hunter Harrison, who passed away on Dec.16, 2017.
Harrison was a prominent figure in show jumping as a sponsor, owner, business advisor, supporter of the sport’s top riders and his Double H Farm has owned and produced some of the sport’s best horses.
Harrison brought support of companies he led to the sport as some of show jumping’s most important sponsors.
The Palm Beach Masters established The Hunter Harrison Award, which was presented to Ariel Grange, the owner of the winning horse of the $220,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Wellington.
The Michael M. Meller Style Award was presented to Beezie Madden.
EARLIER in the Grand Prix arena, Robert Matz and Venturesome took top honors in the $10,000 1.15m class, topping a field of 63 starters.
Matz sped to victory going double clear in 35.630 seconds, with Deborah Perkins second on Chivu with a jump-off clear round time of 36.371 and Claire Schreder third on That’s It 3 clearing the jump-off course in 36.856 seconds.
Matz’s parents were on hand to watch their son’s victory.
His father, Michael, was the 1981 FEI World Cup Champion as well as a three-time Olympian, winning a team silver medal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
Matz is currently one of the top trainers in T\thoroughbred horseracing, sending two Triple Crown horses to the winner’s circle.
Robert’s mother, D.D., also a notable equestrian, was a member of the bronze medal winning show jumping team at two Pan American Games.
“Just really riding away from the fences and tight turns gave us the win," said Robert. "He’s a fast horse, too. My parents help me sometimes at the farm, and Sloan Coles helped here so it’s a great combination. It was really exciting and my grandmother made it down here from Pennsylvania, so that made it really special."