Riding through a downpour, it was Daniel Coyle of Ireland riding Cita, owned by Ariel Grange & Lothlorien, who came out victorious in the $384,000 Douglas Elliman Real Estate Grand Prix CSI 5* on Saturday. The rain started early on Saturday evening and never let up throughout the entirety of the class, but it was still a highly competitive grand prix. Out of 40 entries, six went clear and advanced to the jump-off over the course designed by Alan Wade of Ireland, who is also tapped to design at this year’s FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon.
As the only double clear in the class, Daniel Coyle and Cita, a 12-year-old Holsteiner mare by Casall x Pik Ramiro, secured the victory in a time of 42.51 seconds.
“I suppose I had a big advantage tonight,” said Coyle of his second to last position in the jump-off. “My plan was to be clear no matter what because there weren’t any at that time, so it worked out well for me.”
Second place went to Rodrigo Pessoa (BRA) on Chaganus, owned by Pessoa Stables. They had a rail in the double combination and finished in a time of 39.59 seconds.
“Going in the beginning of the jump-off, you kind of have to risk a little bit because there are still really good riders to come,” said Pessoa. “This is a fence in particular that I’ve had a little bit of problems with him – the combination vertical and oxer. I thought that was a little bit dangerous, but I had to risk it and try not to leave the door open.”
“He’s a very keen horse,” said Pessoa of the 10-year-old Oldenburg gelding by Chacco-Blue x Narew XX. “He’s a real trier, and he’s very, very careful. He has a big heart. The only thing that was difficult with him was that he was a little bit tense, and then in the ring he got a little bit quick. So that’s why I started kind of slow with him during WEF here and doing some smaller classes and figuring out the bridle. For a couple of weeks now, he’s been going well. He’s been improving every time.”
Riding Mario Onate’s Coleman, Rodrigo Lambre (BRA) finished third with four faults on a time of 41.62 seconds.
Lambre stated, “It’s a shame that I had that rail, but I’m really happy because of all the opponents and the high level we have here.”
Lambre started riding Coleman, an 11-year-old KWPN gelding by Kitile Horta x Rulanda, last summer.
“He was ridden by Mario Onate, my partner and boss,” said Lambre. “My first good result [with Coleman] was in Ocala in the Nations Cup. I was clear and one down in the second round. That proves that he has what it takes.”
This is only the second time that Lambre has competed at the Winter Equestrian Festival, but he came prepared with a string of very competitive horses.
“For sure I wanted to come here because I have my eye on the WEG also,” he said. “So [I need] to prove myself. I’m really happy that [my horses] are jumping like this.”
The rain played an obvious part in some riders’ rounds in the grand prix, but Coyle was not one to let it bother him too much.
“It’s different conditions, but when you go in the ring, you kind of forget it,” he said. “Then when you come out and go back through your round, yeah, it probably does play a part. But at that time, you have to forget about the rain; forget about the conditions and try to get on with the job that you’re trying to do.”
“The rain was a little bit distracting,” said Pessoa. “It was not torrential rain, but it’s a little bit distracting for us and for the horses as well. Despite that, the footing was really good. He coped very well.”
The joy on Coyle’s face was evident following his winning ride. “It’s really exciting,” he said. “It probably hasn’t sunk in yet, but that is, I think, my first grand prix five-star win. There’s nowhere better to do it than here.”