A Fresh Start: Young Irishman Daniel Coyle Excels on Canadian Turf

Daniel Coyle and Fortis Fortuna enjoying the win at Spruce on Wednesday, July 6th, 2016.

A little under a year ago, Irish rider Daniel Coyle found himself without top horses or owners. But on July 6th, 2016, through a little bit of luck, and a lot of hard work, the Irishman brought home two FEI wins at the Spruce Meadows CSI5* ‘National Tournament,’ a healthy sting of horses underneath him.

Native to County Derry, Ireland, Coyle enjoyed a successful career in Europe before recently making the switch to North America. “Two years ago in Ireland, I had a very good speed horse called Uptown Girl, owned by Linzi Johnston, and she taught me most of what I know,” the 21-year-old Irishman explained of his career overseas. Coyle also had a very good owner in John Carr—in addition to the talented stallion Zuidam, Coyle had between 15 to 20 horses in training that were owned by Carr.

“When I was with them, I was flying. I was winning loads and I couldn’t be happier,” Coyle spoke of his previous owners in Ireland. “I was going to Portugal, England, Scotland; I travelled a lot then and had done a lot.”

But just as Coyle’s career was gaining momentum, his two main owners fell out from underneath him: “Lyndsay left the sport, and John unfortunately passed away,” explained Coyle. “The last year when they left, I hadn’t had any good horses. I was always trying to make the horses better than they were. So I decided I was going to leave Ireland and go somewhere else.”

That’s when Coyle recruited the help of Barry O’Connor, a horse dealer from Malahide, to help him find new riding opportunities. But it was through a twist of fate that found Coyle in Canada working alongside Conor Swail, riding for Lothlorien Farms. 

“This is my first summer here and I’ve been very very lucky.”

“I talked to Barry O’Connor who so happened to be good friends with Conor Swail,” explained Coyle. “Barry had a couple of good jobs lined up for me, and just before I was about to look further into the jobs, he spoke to Conor, who suggested I come work with him at the Granges.”

And the rest, as they say, is history. This past winter, Coyle found himself working with Swail at Lothlorien’s winter-base in Wellington, Florida. After proving himself a worthy rider during the winter circuit, Coyle began to rebuild his career at Lothlorien’s home farm in Caledon, Ontario. The Grange’s renowned Lothlorien is considered to be one of the top private jumper barns in Canada, with a vast string of horses composed of home-breds and purchased horses alike.

“Now I have a very good relationship with Sue Grange, Ariel Grange and Conor, and I really have to thank Barry at all times because it was him who got me here,” Coyle said.

Coyle is grateful for the opportunities the Granges have given him to compete with young horse and older horses alike at top venues across North America, including the Summer Series at Spruce Meadows.

“This is my first summer here and I’ve been very very lucky,” said Coyle. “I have eight or nine horses here, and every one of them has won once or maybe twice. I love the show, and I love the people, and I’m really glad I came.”

Daniel Coyle and Somerset

Coyle’s first win came in the $10,000 JayMan Cup aboard the Sue and Ariel Grange-owned, Somerset (For Pleasure x Oklund).

“She’s only an eight year old so I’m over the moon with her,” Coyle spoke of the mare. “I always want the win, but because she’s only eight I’ve got to be realistic. There were a lot of people at the start that didn’t even make the time allowed, so I thought, maybe it’s not going to be the hardest class in the world to win.”

Coyle’s second win of the day, and his biggest yet since moving to Canada, came in the $35,000 1.50m AON Cup aboard Fortis Fortuna (Quidam de Revel x Carthago) against a field of 48 seasoned riders. While Coyle has racked up a series of wins so far during the Spruce Meadows’s Summer Series, this victory was special, as it was his first in the International Ring. “It is always brilliant to win an international competition, especially in that International Ring,” Coyle remarked.

Second-last to go in the order, it was Swail who was leading the class before Coyle had his turn in the ring. “In the warm-up, I said to him, ‘I think you have it won, unless I beat you.’ And I did!” exclaimed Coyle.

Just last week, Coyle won the U25 Grand Prix at Spruce aboard the 11-year-old mare. Later that week, Coyle’s initial attempt to move the horse up didn’t go as expected, but Coyle was not discouraged. “I decided to give it another go today, and she won it,” Coyle explained. “She was very good; she should have a bright future, that one.”

Daniel Coyle wins the AON Cup

Coyle only started riding the mare a week before the Spruce Meadows Summer Series began, picking up the ride for Swail. “Conor was riding her but he just hadn’t enough time, so he passed along the ride to me” Coyle noted. “And I can’t complain about that. I think the two of us have a great partnership.”

His wins are the product of what has already been an amazing year for the young Irishman’s career. Just last month, Coyle made his senior team debut for Ireland in the Furuyissa FEI Nations Cup at Thunderbird Show Park in Langley, BC, contributing a vital double-clear performance aboard Lothlorien’s Tennyson that helped the team secure the win.

Following Spruce Meadows, Coyle will return home to Ireland for two weeks for a long overdue visit, and will then will return to the Grange’s Lothlorien Farms in Caledon, Ontario, where he will contest in local CSI2* and CSI3* competitions.

With a talented string of horse underneath him, and a supportive team behind him, the future looks bright for Coyle. “I’m in a good place now,” Coyle remarked, “and I hope I can keep getting better.”  

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