Things didn’t go according to plan for Jordan Coyle (IRL) and Eristov in the $89,500 CSI5* Palm Beach Masters Qualifier, and it was all the better for them.
“It wasn’t really part of the plan; this season [we had] a few hiccups. This wouldn’t normally be [Eristov’s] class. The [$300,000 CSI5* CP Palm Beach Masters Final on Sunday] would be his class, but with everything that’s [been] happening, I thought I should go out today and try to win,” Coyle said.
Win they did over a competitive, 56-horse field, which saw 22 riders jump clear by the end of the afternoon. Maximizing Eristov’s impressive stride, Coyle pulled out all the stops, dashing through the timers on 67.27 seconds, just ahead of Ben Maher (GBR) and Explosion W on 68.63 seconds, and Coyle’s countryman, Billy Twomey and Lady Lou, on 69.62.
Jumping in the bottom third of the order, Coyle had the benefit of watching the majority of the class ahead of him and thought there was still work left to be done. “I watched Billy [Twomey and] I didn’t even think [he] was going that fast, so I couldn’t believe that no one had gone faster,” Coyle said.
“From [Jumps] 7 to 8, it’s seven strides, but for [Eristov], it’s a normal six. And then after the double [9a-b], it’s six strides [to Jump 10], but you can do five normally on him. He just has a massive, massive stride, so on a field like this, when the jumps are set like this, then it’s perfect.”
In fact, the Irish rider said, Alan Wade’s 1.55m speed track, which offered several places for riders to cut corners and allow their horses to gallop unrestrained, had all the ingredients necessary for the 11-year-old KWPN gelding’s success. “He loves grass, and he loves when he can leave out strides, because it’s just easier for him.
“I think today he felt free,” Coyle continued. “When you’re doing the ‘right’ numbers all the time, it takes a lot of control. I don’t have much control over him much of the time. So today, wherever we were able to not have control [on course], it suited him.”
With a strong group of owners, Coyle is working to develop a string of new horses, a fact that has changed the way he rides Eristov, among others. “I jumped the 1.45m [$36,600 Suncast Welcome Stake] yesterday and went fast, which is something I never would do with him, and then also [went for the win] today. I think, actually, after doing it, it’s something I should do more often, because he came in and he enjoyed it.
“A year [or] six months ago, I would have never been able to do this, because I only had [Eristov in my string]. So, to be able to then go into the [$300,000 CSI5* CP Palm Beach Masters Final] on Sunday, you leave yourself no chance,” said Coyle, who plans to compete his second horse, Essenar Crixus, in Sunday’s 1.60m Grand Prix. “It’s great that we can use all the horses now.”