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Daniel Coyle and Lena VDL are uncatchable in the $32,000 Wheels Up Grand Prix Qualifier CSI2*

Saturday, 09 March 2024
CSI4*/CSI2* World Equestrian Center Ocala 2024

Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography Daniel Coyle and Lena VDL in the $32,000 Wheels Up Grand Prix Qualifier CSI2*. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography.


Press release from World Equestrian Center



Two-star competition took over the WEC Grand Arena on Friday night for the $32,000 Wheels Up Grand Prix Qualifier CSI2*. Thirty-eight competitors representing nine different nations tackled the intricate tracks designed by Gregory Bodo (FRA) and Pieter Viste (BEL), but it was the trailblazing performance of pathfinder Daniel Coyle (IRL) and Ariel Grange’s young and talented Lena VDL that stole the spotlight. 

Fifteen horse-and-rider combinations managed to find their way to a clear first round, and eight yielded a double clear effort. 

Daniel Coyle led the way aboard his brand-new partner Lena VDL. Just two weeks ago, Coyle earned second place aboard the promising eight-year-old KWPN mare in the $50,000 Golden Ocala National Grand Prix. Tonight, he hoped to continue that success. 

“Last week, I said to Ariel [Grange], maybe ‘Lena’ should do the two-star next week, and she agreed. We don’t really know the horse too well, she’s only shown with us for three weeks. The first week, she had a fence down in the 1.30m, then she was second in the 1.50m. So, we jumped her around 1.40m to school, and planned to see how tonight would go, but after this, I think we are all so happy we have her.” 

Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography Daniel Coyle and Lena VDL accepting their first place awards presented by Jennifer Glass and Jim Wolf of World Equestrian Center. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography.

Coming back first for the jump-off, Coyle and Lena VDL were ready to give it their all, “One to two there was no real distance because it was so far away. From two to three it was seven or eight. I had talked about seven, but again, I still don’t know her too well, so we did eight. But there was this really tight inside turn, and I wasn’t even sure I was going to do it. Bretton Chad and Charlie Jones asked me in the schooling ring, and honestly, I didn’t know. So, I checked it out and decided to go for it. Then she was quick in seven up to the combination and fast to the last two.” 

Clocking in an uncatchable 36.33 seconds, Coyle and Lena VDL set an uncatchable pace for the remaining field and ultimately galloped away with the winning title. 

Speaking about the promising young mare, Coyle shared, “We purchased her from VDL. Ariel and I went out to try her quite a few times, but we weren’t sure if we were going to get her or not. We are happy we did because she’s a whole lot better than we thought,” he added. “She’s a real firecracker. She has her own opinion about every single thing, but I think that’s why she’s so good in the ring. I am so delighted Ariel bought her for me. I think the mare has a really promising future ahead, and we are grateful to Janko [van de Lageweg] for finding us another amazing horse.” 

Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography Rodrigo Pessoa and Chili jumping in stellar form to second place. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography.

Second place finisher, Rodrigo Pessoa (BRA) jokingly said to Coyle, “You should have gotten a speeding ticket for that round.” But Pessoa wasn’t too far behind Coyle. Riding Artemis Equestrian Farm LLC’s Chili (Consolidator x Berlin), Pessoa found a lightning-fast track just three tenths of a second short in 36.72 seconds. 

Charlie Jones (GBR) secured third place aboard Macho-Blue Ps (Messenger x Chacco-blue), owned by Katie Harris. Racing through the jump-off track, Jones and his mount, affectionately nicknamed ‘Mighty Macho,’ galloped to each fence, crossing the timers in 37.95 seconds to complete the podium.


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