Ireland’s Daniel Coyle and CHS Krooze finished second to America’s David Oberkircher and Upper in the Under-25 Grand Prix at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, Florida.
Coyle’s time of 36.19 seconds aboard his own CHS Krooze was just over a second slower than the winner’s 35.10 seconds, but the Irish rider was happy with his runner-up finish:
“These guys were brilliant,” said Coyle of Oberkircher and Cunniffe. “The horse I have tonight is one of my own horses; it’s a little new to me. I walked the course and thought ‘This is big,’ so I’m very happy. This is the first big step for [CHS Krooze], and she really came through so I’m excited for her.”
“She’s not everybody’s cup of tea,” continued Coyle in speaking of the nine-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare. “She’s just special in lots of ways – like if a horse canters past her or somebody spooks her or even tractors or simple things. For me, when horses jump as good as she does though, the rest you put up with. When I’ve put pressure on to ask her to do a little more, she’s always done it so much better, which is always the sign of a good horse. Like I say, she’s not the simplest, but the jump is there. I’ll just take my time until I have something in the end!”
David Oberkircher and Upper defeated a field of 46 entries to win the $36,000 Hermès Under 25 Semi-Final Grand Prix CSI U25, marking the pair’s second consecutive Hermès Under 25 Grand Prix Series victory after having also won the $25,000 Hermès Under 25 Grand Prix during week six of WEF.
Oberkircher and the 11-year-old Selle Francais gelding were one of six entries to qualify to jump off and as the second to return, the US combination set a time to beat of 35.10 seconds that would prove untouchable through the remainder of the class.
Behind Coyle in third with a time of 36.22 seconds was Ailish Cunniffe (USA) riding Baloucento 2.
All three riders will now contest the $50,000 Hermès Under 25 Grand Prix Series Final during WEF Week 11.
Final Result: $36,000 Hermès U25 Semi-Final Grand Prix
1 Upper and David Oberkircher (USA),0/0/35.10 seconds.
2 CHS Krooze and Daniel Coyle (IRL), 0/0/36.19 seconds.
3 Baloucento 2 and Ailish Cunniffe (USA), 0/0/36.22 seconds.