Luck and Learning Are the Perfect Combination for Daniel Coyle and Gisborne VDL

Ireland’s Daniel Coyle topped a baker’s dozen jumping off for $142,400 in the CSI5* 1.50m Thursday afternoon at Thunderbird Show Park, kicking off five star competition at MLSJ Canadian Premier week.

Under picture perfect skies Coyle brought Ariel Grange’s Gisborne VDL into the Thunderbird Jumper Arena to tackle Olaf Petersen’s short track. They followed Canada’s Ali Ramsay, who had just posted a blistering time of 37.97 seconds aboard her 2022 national championship winning mount Bonita VH Keizershof with a lot of go and very little “whoa.” Shaving fractions of a second off and leaving a stride out, Coyle and Gisborne VDL stopped the clock in 37.59 to take over the lead.

“Because Gisborne’s a big-strided horse and not the fastest, I did one less stride from the first to second fence than most people. And then the roll-backs were everything and just by luck, by chance, they came up good for me,” said the world no. 20.

A relatively new mount for Coyle, the 2011 stallion came into the barn in December and they have been steadily figuring each other out since. In 12 international rounds at 1.40m to 1.60m, the pair has a 50% clear round rate, according to Jumpr App. Thursday’s CSI5* 1.50m marks their first international victory and third podium finish.

“Everything we have asked him to do so far has been brilliant and we have high hopes for him,” explained Coyle. “But he’s starting to figure out that going fast to these big fences is all right.”

Coyle chuckled when asked what he likes most about third.

“I always seem to win something here, it’s been a very lucky show for me. And once something is lucky, it usually stays lucky for you. I did my first Nations Cup here successfully [editor’s note: he jumped double clear] and I’ve been coming back ever since. And I always come here with new horses and learn so much about them, with the sand ring and the grass ring over the two weeks.”

tbird’s 50th Anniversary continues with the MLSJ Canadian Premier on Friday, featuring the CSI2* Cabana Coast Qualifier 1.45m, MarBill Hill U25 1.40m, and the CSI5* MLSJ Team Event. For tickets are on sale at www.tbird.ca.

Jikke-Cara and Alison Robitaille Hop to the Top of the CSI2* 1.40m Two-Phase

It wasn’t Alison Robitaille’s intention to go fast or be particularly competitive in Thursday morning ’s CSI2* 1.40m Two-Phase with Jikke-Cara, it being their first time out on the grass field of the Fort Grand Prix Arena at Thunderbird Show Park. But “Bunny Rabbit” as she is known in the barn (because she looks like the emoji of course) picked up the pace and kept on rolling, right to the top of the 60-horse field. 

“We were lucky to show in Wellington on the grass recently, so we got our feet wet out there,” remarked Robitaille. “She has a very big stride — I left out a stride down the very first line and just was able to keep that pace throughout the whole course.”

A relatively new pairing, Robitaille purchased the Dutch Warmblood mare in 2022 from world no. 9 Kent Farrington (USA). 

“She was in Europe, so [I bought her] pretty much sight unseen. But [Kent] thought it would be good match. She came over in quarantine and I agreed with him—and off we went,” said Robitaille.

The pair have been training with Farrington for the past year and developing their partnership at the 1.35m-1.40m height. They have clear round average of 67% over six rounds at the 1.40m-1.45m level, according to Jumpr App.

Honourable mention goes to Canada’s Susan Horn with three in the top-ten.

CSI2* $1,000 1.40M 

Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / Country / Rd 1 Faults / JO Faults:JO Time

  1. Jikke-Cara / Alison Robitaille / Alison Firestone LLC / USA / 0/0:35.38
  2. Fasole Du Seigneur / Alexis Sokolov / Rider / USA / 0/0:35.8
  3. Cadeau Z / Mandy Porter / Risen Eq Holdings LLC / USA / 0/0:38.61
  4. Chacca Keeps II / Susan Horn / Kingsfield Farm / CAN / 0/0:38.79
  5. Valentino D’Elte / Vanessa Mannix / Rider / CAN / 0/0:38.98
  6. Casturano / Conor Swail / Rider / IRE / 0/0:39
  7. Kirlo Van Den Bosrand / Susan Horn / Kingsfield Farm / CAN / 0/0:39.24
  8. KS Coradina / Susan Horn / Kingsfield Farm / CAN / 0/0:40.27
  9. Oaks Come By Chance / David Cameron / Rider / AUS / 0/0:40.74
  10. Oaks Cassanova / Samuel Overton / Rider / AUS / 0/0:40.88

Georgia Knight and Onyx Debut at No. 1 in the MarBill Hill U25

In decisive style, Georgia Knight, 19, of Victoria, BC, and her mount Onyx captured the win in the $5,000 MarBill Hill U25 1.35m class Wednesday afternoon at Thunderbird Show Park—their very first U25 competition together.

Topping a field of 25 young riders from Canada, the United States and Mexico, including many experienced riders, Knight bested the ten who advanced to the jump off by nearly three full seconds. Having spent most of her riding career competing in the hunter ring, Knight is still working on speed, especially in such an expansive ring as the Fort Grand Prix Arena, and admits to recently having had time faults in more than one jump-off round.

“I always feel like I’m going much faster than I actually am,” laughed Knight following the awards presentation. “Onyx is owned by Joelle Froese and we’re leasing him. He’s jumped some big classes in his life. When I got him a year and a half ago, I had only been jumping at 1.20m and he’s brought me right up to the 1.40m. So he has a very special place in my heart. He’s taught me a lot.”

The final fence in both rounds was the MarBill Hill oxer, and course designer Meghan Rawlins’ placement of it right in front of the in/out gate very nearly tempted 18-year-old Onyx to exit stage left.

“Galloping to the last fence in both rounds, I could feel Onyx eyeing the in-gate, not really getting his eye on that last fence. Fortunately I was able to get him paying attention.” 

The pair will compete in two more MarBill Hill U25 classes at tbird as part of the MLSJ Canadian Premier week of competition, once in Friday’s 1.40m class and in the $15,000 Grand Prix on Sunday. Their ultimate goal is to compete in the international U25 final at tbird this September.

World-class show jumping continues through Sunday with the launch of this year’s Major League Show Jumping tour, featuring CSI2* and CSI5* competition. Riders representing ten countries, including Olympians Amy Millar, Tiffany Foster and Mario Deslauriers (Canada); Darragh Kenny and Shane Sweetnam (Ireland); Nayel Nassar (Egypt); and Kent Farrington (USA) will compete for prize money and team points.

For tickets, entries and schedule information and streaming on TBIRD TV, visit www.tbird.ca.

$5,000 MarBill Hill U25 1.35m
Place / Horse / Rider / Hometown / Owner / Faults / Time

  1. Onyx / Georgia Knight / Victoria, BC / Joelle Froese / 0:41.79
  2. Ielinea JTL / Jaydan Stettner / Regina, SK / Jaydan Stettner / 0:44.07
  3. Jillz / Natalie Popham / Victoria, BC / Natalie Popham / 0:44.18
  4. Texas / Justine Cha / Camrose, AB / Christine Cha / 0:45.16
  5. ESI Jet Set / Carly Stevens / Foothills, AB / Grant & Susie Stevens / 0:45.91
  6. Lestat OLD / Ashley Arnoldt / Langley, BC / Jennifer Arnoldt / 0:46.29
  7. Duke of Doel / Tali DeJong / Golden, CO / Tali DeJong / 0:48.48
  8. Sonny Brigade / Jennifer Clark / Mill Bay, BC / Jennifer Clark / 4:42.91
  9. Starkato / Sam Walker / Nobleton, ON / Tal Milstein / 4:44.8
  10. Cabablue / Patricio Pasquel Jr. / MEX / Patricio Pasquel / 8:49.87

Anya Bereznicki Makes Back-to-Back Wins in the MarBill Hill U25 1.40m

Anya Bereznicki (CAN) refuses to bring her “princess” mare Diazella out for more than two classes per competition.

Less has proven to be more.

Bereznicki, 18, and her 14-year-old Holsteiner mare won the two classes they contested at tbird’s Canadian Premier, capturing the $15,000 MarBill Hill U25 1.40m Sunday after winning Friday’s U25 speed contest. The longtime partners comfortably topped a four-horse jump-off, crossing the timers of the 1.40m shortened track in 35.55 seconds. Sam Walker (CAN) and Hermelien finished second (36.89), with Emmanuelle Greenberg (USA) and Claire de Lune M, third (46.29).

“I knew I had competition when Sam was clear, because that is a fantastic horse and rider,” Bereznicki said. “I just wanted to win again. I wanted to give my horse the best chance that she could to get over the fences because she will never let me down.”

Bereznicki has had a good example to follow at tbird, as the young professional has been training for the past year and a half under World No. 5 and tbird’s winningest rider Conor Swail (IRL).

“I have a lot of faith in everything that Conor tells me, because he is just such a breath of fresh air to anything I’ve ever been told before by anybody else,” Bereznicki said. “He gives me so much confidence, and if we make mistakes, we kind of laugh it off and move on, and it’s always a positive, positive thing. I’m so, so happy and so grateful to have his help with everything.”

Her gratitude extends to her horse, who, over the course of the last five years, has brought her from 1.20m to her first international classes.

“She’s just unbelievable. She’s my best friend and I don’t know what I would do with her,” Bereznicki said. “[She’s] getting older, and she’s kind of the princess in my life, so I only will do a maximum of two classes a week with her from now on.”

Bereznicki plans to contest the CSI2* division at next week’s Odlum Brown BC Open.

Anya Bereznicki and Diazella in the prize giving ceremony. ©tbird/Quinn Saunders

$15,000 MarBill Hill U25 1.40m
Place / Horse / Rider / Nationality / Owner / Faults / Time

1. Diazella / Anya Bereznicki / CAN / Anya Bereznicki / 0/0 35.55
2. Hermelien / Sam Walker / CAN / Evergate Stables / 0/0 36.89
3. Claire de Lune M / Emmanuelle Greenberg / USA / Pumpkins Patch Farms II Inc / 0/0 46.29
4. Coco du Houlbec Z / Emily Fitzgerald / CAN / Emily Fitzgerald / 0/4 37.97
5. I. Zapo / Jarne Francken / USA / Greg Tomb / 0 84.92
6. C’Diam de Ste Anne / Jarne Francken / USA / Patti Kits / 4 80.58
7. VIP des Majuros / Carly Stevens / CAN / Grant & Susie Stevens / 4 80.93
8. Dento / Carly Stevens / CAN / Grant & Susie Stevens / 4 81.66
9. Vainqueur de Brekka / Anneke Power / USA / Anneke Power / 4 81.83
10. Barack / Reid Pankewicz / USA / Lynne Stephenson Beda Wachter / 4 83.74
For the first time in its history, Thunderbird Show Park is hosting two consecutive weeks of five-star show jumping. Competition will resume June 1–June 5 with the CSIO5*/CSI2* Odlum Brown BC Open, featuring the $235,000 Longines CSIO5* Grand Prix on Friday, June 3 and the $400,000 CSIO5* Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Canada on Sunday, June 5. Tickets are available now at tbird.ca.

Swail and Nadal Hero & DB Repeat in CSI5* Winning Round 1.50m

Sunday was a good day to be named Nadal. Across the Atlantic, tennis legend Rafael Nadal won his fourth round match at the French Open; he seeks his 14th win in the tennis major.

At tbird, Conor Swail’s (IRL) Nadal Hero & DB won his second five-star event of the week; the 9-year-old chestnut stallion will likely jump his first five-star grand prix at next week’s Odlum Brown BC Open.

Swail and Nadal’s latest victory came in the $73,400 CSI5* Winning Round 1.50m. The uniquely formatted competition advances the top 10 combinations from an opening round of competition to a shortened course, in which the athletes return in reverse order of standing from the first round.

“We’ve had a good week. He’s jumped in two classes and he’s won both,” Swail said. “He’s very fast, and when you go faster, he goes higher. I get a great feeling, I must say. I’m very excited about him.”

Returning in the latter half of the winning round, Swail showed his competitors that his mount still had plenty left in the tank after topping Friday’s CSI5* Maui Jim 1.45m Speed. The duo blazed Peter Grant’s (CAN) shortened track, sweeping ahead of then-leader Daniel Coyle (IRL) by nearly four seconds (45.85 seconds).

No one would catch the pair, with Coyle and Oak Grove’s Carlyle settling for second (49.2). Langley native Brian Morton (CAN) finished third with Crusador Z; the pair finished the short track in an identical time of 49.2 seconds, but a slightly slower first round time decided the tiebreaker.

“I was fortunate enough to see a few horses going before me. Daniel’s round, I thought it was very, very neat, but I felt that my horse could do a little better,” Swail said.

Rhythm was the key to victory, with Swail starting out with purpose and opening up the gallop to the final fence.

“We started off with a very good rhythm that carried us through [fences] two and three,” Swail explained. “I added one more stride [to the penultimate fence], and he was very good to me, and then I made a good run down to the last one, and he jumped that perfectly.”

Swail and his mount have only been paired for a few months, and Sunday concluded just the fourth international show of their partnership. Swail has quickly learned that he has a cool competitor on his hands—one that’s ready to step up.

“He’s a stallion, but he’s a good guy in the stall. He’s not too cheeky, he doesn’t nip or try and be too naughty,” he said. “He’s very, very levelheaded and very nice to ride as well. He’s quite casual and relaxed.

“He’s doing the [CSIO5* division of the Odlum Brown BC Open] next week, and I think I might do the [$235,000 CSIO5* Longines Grand Prix] with him actually, because [my other horse, Count Me In] is doing the [$400,000 CSIO5* Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Canada],” Swail added. “So, I might just jump him in it to see how he handles it; that’s good education.”

tbird CEO Jane Tidball and President Chris Pack with Conor Swail. ©tbird/Quinn Saunders

$73,400 CSI5* Winning Round 1.50m
Place / Horse / Rider / Nationality / Owner / Faults / Time

1. Nadal Hero & DB / Conor Swail / IRL / Conor Swail / 0/0 45.85
2. Oak Grove’s Carlyle / Daniel Coyle / IRL / Ariel Grange / 0/0 49.2
3. Crusador Z / Brian Morton / CAN / Spruce Meadows Ltd / 0/0 49.2
4. HH N-Joy / Quentin Judge / USA / Double H Farm / 0/0 49.43
5. Gigi Carmen / John Perez / COL / John Perez / 0/0 49.46
6. Cat Ninja / Jacqueline Steffens / CAN / Eye Candy Jumpers / 0/0 49.81
7. Contefina LVF / Ashlee Bond / ISR / Ashlee Bond / 0/4 45.89
8. El Conde / Nayel Nassar / EGY / Evergate Stables / 0/4 46.51
9. Chess / Nick Dello Joio / USA / Wembley Farms Inc. / 0/4 50.98
10. Enzo / Kyle King / USA / Seabright Investment Consultants Ltd. / 0/8 49.11

Jordan Coyle and Ariso Prove Uncatchable in CSI5* MLSJ Grand Prix

Langley, BC – May 29, 2022 – In a jump-off of 10 of North America’s finest riders, at first glance, it appeared as though the $218,000 CSI5* Major League Show Jumping Grand Prix at Thunderbird Show Park would be decided only after the lead had changed hands several times.

No one told Jordan Coyle (IRL).

Returning second over Peter Grant’s (CAN) shortened course, with the likes of Nayel Nassar (EGY), Beezie Madden (USA), Kent Farrington (USA) and brother Daniel Coyle (IRL) behind him in the lineup, Coyle and Elan Farm’s Ariso laid down a performance that simply could not be caught. In fact, even as riders took greater and greater risks on course, it wasn’t even all that close.

Coyle ran away with the opening five-star grand prix of the 2022 Major League Show Jumping season, crossing the finish timers in 45.89 seconds, nearly a full second faster than Nassar and his Tokyo Olympic mount, Igor van de Wittemoere (46.56). Daniel Coyle and Legacy finished third as the only other double-clear performers (46.81).

“Nayel on that horse is very, very, very fast. We had Kent, one of the best in the world, in my opinion, at everything. Daniel, I suppose you could say is not bad also,” Jordan said, alluding to his sibling rivalry. “I just felt like if if I could go as fast as [Ariso] can go, it would be pretty hard for everyone else to catch me, and lucky enough, it all worked out.”

Jordan Coyle and Ariso. ©tbird/Quinn Saunders

Coyle has picked up right where he left off when it comes to MLSJ, which launched in 2021 with an innovative team competition and 10 new five-star events in North America. He and Ariso won the inaugural series’ finale at the Desert Horse Park in California (USA) in December. That victory marked Coyle’s first CSI5* Grand Prix victory, and it hasn’t taken him long to add another at the highest level of show jumping competition.

“People can say whatever they want about this, but when you’re going that speed, everything kind of has to come up for you. I was very lucky today,” Coyle said. “Everything came up, and in the warm-up today in between the first round and the jump-off, [Ariso] was jumping over the standards. So I was like, ‘Okay. Today’s the day that we go and try and have a win at this.'”

Coyle’s instincts were right, and he relied on them as he tackled the short course. Grant’s track offered a lot of room to gallop between the fences, and while some riders tried to beat Coyle with tight rollbacks and inside turns, he and his mount simply outran them. The technical strategy, stride numbers and all, were put aside.

“When I walk the courses, obviously I walk all the strides, but it’s very simple for me, because it’s [either set on a normal stride], or you slow down, or you go faster,” Coyle explained. “I think people get too technical with all the other things that happen in the middle sometimes. I’m sure it wouldn’t work for everyone, but it must work for me.”

Thunderbird Show Park was originally on the 2021 MLSJ schedule, but travel restrictions due to the ongoing pandemic forced its cancellation. In 2022, the venue has reached a new milestone: For the first time in its history, it will host back-to-back five-star events, with this week’s CSI5*/CSI2* Canadian Premier followed immediately by the CSIO5*/CSI2* Odlum Brown BC Open, featuring the $235,000 CSIO5* Longines Grand Prix on Friday, June 3 and the $400,000 CSIO5* Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Canada on Sunday, June 5.

“It’s really great to see so many new faces here, but it’s even better to see [Jordan Coyle, Daniel Coyle and Nayel Nassar]. They’ve all won here before, and it’s nice that they’re back sitting beside me,” said tbird President Chris Pack. “We’re just really appreciative of the effort that Major League puts in to promote the sport and to be exciting. I think that showed not only in last night’s [team competition], but also in today’s [Grand Prix]. I think you can have great sport and some fun, too.”

Jordan Coyle and Ariso, winners of the MLSJ CSI5* Grand Prix Vancouver. ©tbird/Quinn Saunders

$218,000 Major League Show Jumping CSI5* Grand Prix
Place / Horse / Rider / Team / Nationality / Owner / Faults / Time / Jump-Off Time

1. Ariso / Jordan Coyle / IRL / Elan Farm / 0/0 45.89
2. Igor van de Wittemoere / Nayel Nassar / EGY / Evergate Stables / 0/0 46.56
3. Legacy / Daniel Coyle / IRL / Ariel Grange / 0/0 46.81
4. Chancelloress / Paul O’Shea / IRL / Trelawny Farm LLC / 0/4 46.98
5. Cornet’s Cambridge / Nick Dello Joio / The Berry Group LLC / 0/4 48.47
6. Babel / Patricio Pasquel / MEX / Patricio Pasquel / 0/4 49.28
7. James Kann Cruz / Shane Sweetnam / IRL / Gizmo Partners LLC / 0/4 50.5
8. Kingston / Vanessa Mannix / CAN / Vanessa Mannix / 0/4 55.63
9. Gazelle / Kent Farrington / USA / Kent Farrington & Robin Parsky / 0/8 47.07
10. Breitling LS / Beezie Madden / USA / Abigail Wexner / 0/9 60.55

Daniel Coyle Makes It a Double in $37,000 Grand Prix CSI2*

The first class of the day Saturday invited CSI2* athletes back to the Fort Grand Prix Arena for the $37,000 Grand Prix CSI2*. With 41 entries coming forward, the field was competitive and Grant’s course was built for the occasion. With tricky elements challenging both horse and rider on course, rails fell everywhere across the track, even for some of the top competitors. But five were able to complete the first course fault-free and of those, it was Daniel Coyle in the winner’s circle again with Ivory TCS.

Sixth in the order, Coyle and Ariel Grange’s 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare followed their success Friday with a clear first round Saturday. Slightly past the halfway point in the order of go, Canada’s Tracey Epp joined Coyle and guaranteed a jump-off. With only a handful left, USA riders Kent Farrington, Callie Schott and Jennifer Waxman each etched their names onto the jump-off list.

As the jump-off got underway, Coyle set the bar high with a double-clear effort in 46.80 seconds, taking risky inside turns but leaving some speed on the table, knowing a double-clear would put pressure on the remaining four pairs. Perhaps his biggest threat, World No. 7 Farrington took to the course with Haity McNerney’s gelding. He used the 9-year-old Zangersheide’s natural speed to keep a quick rhythm around the track, but fell just short of Coyle’s time, coming home on a clear round in 49.53 seconds. Schott claimed third with Teddy Z with one rail down on course and a time of 50.43 seconds.

With two FEI wins in two days, Coyle is as confident as ever in Ivory TCS. “She is the most competitive horse you can find, first round and second round. Today, for instance, I was early to go and there were three already that didn’t make it around. I was thinking, ‘What’s going on? This must be difficult enough.” But I knew I was on the best horse for something like that.”

On his plan for the course, Coyle remarked, “I was on high alert to be aware because it’s not so easy. To jump off, I had Kent [Farrington] after me, and a few faster ones. I thought, as first to go with only five horses, I had nothing to lose and I didn’t want them to come in and beat me. So I just left it out there.”

As for the future, Coyle sees endless promise for the mare, who boasts a 47% clear round rate on JUMPR App. “She has a heart of gold and always, always gives 100%,” he continued. “Plus, there’s lots of horses like that who give their best, but sometimes their best isn’t good enough. But this one, she has it to give. She’s like a little computer that you don’t switch on until you need it. You’re only warming up, and then boom, there she goes.”

Saturday’s Grand Prix wraps CSI2* jumping at tbird this week. The division picks up again next week with the Odlum Brown BC Open, featuring concurrent 2*/5* classes.

$37,000 Grand Prix CSI2*
Place / Horse / Rider / Nationality / Owner / Faults / Time

1. Ivory TCS / Daniel Coyle / IRL / Ariel Grange / 0/0 46.80
2. Landon / Kent Farrington / USA / Haity McNerney / 0/0 49.53
3. Teddy Z / Callie Schott / USA / Southern Arches, LLC / 0/4 50.43
4. Chicago / Tracey Epp / CAN / Tracey Epp / 0/5 59.42
5. Scato Van De Molenbrug Z / Jennifer Waxman / USA / The Scato Group LLC / 0/8 54.35
6. CMS Garadice Shore / Karianne Boyce-Lockhart / USA / Karianne Boyce-Lockhart / 2/88.23
7. Cactus De Cosniere / Eric Krawitt / CAN / Eric Krawitt / 4/82.62
8. Costa Diam / Jordan Coyle / IRL / Elan Farm / 4/83.33
9. Gamble / Conor Swail / IRL / Asta Torokvei / 4/83.87
10. Cazaan / John Perez / COL / John Perez / 4/84.12
Tickets for Saturday’s MLSJ Team Event and Sunday’s MLSJ Grand Prix start at $10 and are available at tbird.ca.

Team Helios Hails Major League Show Jumping Season Opener

Langley, BC – May 28, 2022 – The feature event of the 2022 Canadian Premier welcomed spectators to the Fort Grand Prix Arena at Thunderbird Show Park for the $200,000 Major League Show Jumping (MLSJ) Team Competition CSI5*. Eight MLSJ teams took turns jumping a challenging 1.50m track designed by Canada’s Peter Grant to vie for a podium finish. After three riveting rounds, it was Team Helios in the gold medal position as the first MLSJ Team Competition winner of 2022.

The format for the class, unique to MLSJ, see teams compete over three rounds of competition. In Round One, each team fields three riders back to back. The goal: keep the jumps up and stay above the cut line as the four teams with the lowest total scores advance to the second round. In Round Two, the top four teams field two riders apiece over a faults-converted speed course, meaning any rail down will add three seconds to the final jump-off time. The two quickest teams advance to the gold medal match, and the slower two, to the bronze medal match. The third round is a head to head jump off to decide the podium.

First in the ring to open the class was Team Lugano, who, despite their depth of roster, showed signs of greenness to the League, coming home on 24 faults after Hilary McNerney (USA), Vanessa Hood (USA) and Kent Farrington (USA) all jumped the track. The Roadrunners, with two returning MLSJ riders in Kaitlin Campbell (USA) and Kyle King (USA) plus one newcomer in Alberto Michan (ISR), started off strong with a clear round from Campbell, but each of the remaining two riders had 8 faults for a team total of 16 in 238.27 seconds.

The Spy Coast Spies recorded a clear round from Lacey Gilbertson (USA), but with Irishmen Shane Sweetnam and Jordan Coyle on 4 and 12 faults to add, respectively, they would tie the Roadrunners on 16, edging ahead with a quicker time of 220.20. The Trailblazers started out incredibly strong with Emma Marlow (USA) and Daniel Bluman (ISR) both recording clear rounds, but their fortunes turned when Nicky Galligan (IRL) tallied rails and time faults to put the team on a total of 15.

New MLSJ team ShowPlus Northern Lights put forth three riders for the home nation and accumulated 20 faults amongst Vanessa Mannix, Sean Jobin and Sam Walker. Team Helios had a positive start with a clear ride from Eugenio Garza (MEX) and 4 faults from Ashlee Bond (ISR), but Bliss Heers recorded 12 faults to put them in a three-way tie on 16 in 227.93 seconds.

Team Eye Candy, hungry for a win coming off their season finale victory in December of 2021, remained in contention as the two Irishmen, Paul O’Shea and Conor Swail, each came home on 4 faults and Jacqueline Steffens (CAN) accumulated just a time fault for a total of 9 faults, the best total score recorded. Alas, the Crusaders’ jumping abilities fell short of their canoeing at the team draw event. Callie Schott, Hunter Holloway and Nick Dello Joio all had two rails down for a total of 24 faults and the team slotted into eighth place with a slower time than Team Lugano.

With the Spy Coast Spies, Trailblazers, Helios and Eye Candy making the cut into round two, scores were reset to zero and the speed was kicked up a notch as teams put forth two of their riders to vie for the gold medal match. Helios sent in Garza with Victer Finn DH Z and Bond with Donatello 141, coming home on a total time of 108.18 seconds to set the bar. Rookie Gilbertson with Karlin Van’t Vennehof and veteran Sweetnam with Alejandro from Spy Coast Spies did what they needed to do and jumped home in a combined 103.58 seconds to take the lead.

Ashlee Bond and Eugenio Garza set the time to beat in the second round. ©tbird/Quinn Saunders

For the Trailblazers, Marlowe and Cherokee recorded a clear but conservative ride in 60.51 seconds, prompting teammate Bluman to withdraw Gemma W, knowing he was not going to catch the two prior times and the team was already bronze medal match bound. Eye Candy sent forth powerhouses O’Shea with Squirt Gun and Steffens with Freaky, whose combined time was 112.26 seconds, relegating them to the bronze medal match and advancing the Spy Coast Spies and Helios into the jump-off for gold.

The bronze medal matchup featured the fighting Irish, Galligan versus Swail. Galligan galloped Javas Miss Jordan ferociously around the track in 52.56 seconds and put pressure on Swail. While typically cool and calm under pressure. tbird’s winningest rider caught an early rail aboard Theo 160 and couldn’t make up the time. The pair came home in 65.41 seconds, awarding the bronze to the Trailblazers.

All eyes fell on the matchup for gold between Helios and Spy Coast Spies. Heers and Goodbye were efficient around the track but the final two rails fell for a finishing time of 58.77 seconds. Coyle knew he and Picador had to be quick in case of a rail, which proved to be a good tactic as the last rail fell and his final time clocked in at 55.28 seconds, snatching the win for the Spy Coast Spies. In a plot twist at the final moment, the Spy Coast Spies were eliminated post-competition after a small amount of blood was spotted on Picador’s side by the FEI ground jury.

​​”Unfortunately, when Jordan Coyle came out of the ring, his horse had a small nick. The FEI rules are in place to protect the welfare of the horse. The [ground jury’s] decision was made with a lot of thought, and they took their time on it,” said MLSJ co-founder Keean White. “The horses always come first and we all play on a level playing field. We all know that’s the rule and when it happens, it happens. It doesn’t happen often.”

As a result, Team Helios took the win, and Spy Coast Spies were relegated to second. “I think we’re going to have quite a battle this year between Spy Coast and Helios,” he continued, “and I don’t think Eye Candy is going anywhere.”

“I think what Keean [White] and everyone at Major League has done has been really amazing,” remarked Garza. “I think it’s a format that works, a format that keeps it interesting. It’s not too hard on the horses and it just makes for a great class. We as riders, have been looking forward to this class the whole week. To cap it off with a win is pretty good.”

MLSJ Vancouver is the first of 10 stops on the 2022 MLSJ tour.

“Everyone at tbird had a Major League envy last year,” commented Chris Pack, President and Operations Director at tbird. “It was going to start here but with [Canada] shutting down we were just fans of it last year. Cheers to Keean [White] and Matt [Morrissey]. They have an innovative product that brings not only great horsepower but also a lot of excitement to the fans. We’re trying to build a fan base here and this is something that they can grasp and understand. We’re very proud to be part of it.”

CSI5* competition continues at tbird Sunday with the Winning Round 1.50m and MLSJ Grand Prix 1.55m. Tickets start at $10 and are available at tbird.ca.

tbird President Chris Pack, MLSJ co-founder Keean White, MLSJ Mascot Neon and tbird CEO Jane Tidball. ©tbird Quinn Saunders

$200,000 Major League Show Jumping Team Competition CSI5*
Place / Horse / Rider / Team / Nationality / Owner / Faults / Time / Jump-Off Time

1. Victer Finn DH Z / Eugenio Garza Perez / Helios / MEX / El Milagro / 0/79.23/54.70
1. Donatello 141 / Ashlee Bond / Helios / ISR / Ashlee Bond 4/72.33/53.48
1. Goodbye / Bliss Heers / Helios / USA / Bliss Heers 12/76.37/58.77

2. Alejandro / Shane Sweetnam / Spy Coast Spies / IRL / Sweet Oak Farm, Spy Coast Farm & Shane Sweetnam / 4/72.54/52.16
2. Jordan Coyle / Picador / Spy Coast Spies / IRL / Elan Farm / 12/74.01/55.28
2. Karlin Van’t Vennehof / Lacey Gilbertson / Spy Coast Spies / USA / Seabrook LLC / 0/73.65/51.42

3. Cherokee / Emma Marlowe / Trailblazers / USA / Trelawny Farm LLC / 0/81.11/60.51
3. Gemma W / Daniel Bluman / Trailblazers / ISR / Daniel Bluman / 0/70.89/WD
3. Javas Miss Jordan / Nicky Galligan / Trailblazers / IRL / Nicky Galligan 15/91.39/52.56

4. Squirt Gun / Paul O’Shea / Eye Candy / IRL / Eye Candy Jumpers / 4/81.62/55.17
4. Jacqueline Steffens / Freaky / Eye Candy / CAN / Eye Candy Jumpers 1/85.88/57.09
4. Theo 160 / Conor Swail / Eye Candy / IRL / Team Philippaerts / 4/77.67/65.41

Bereznicki Bests $5,000 MarBill Hill U25 1.40m

Young riders had their second chance at scoring the top spot in their division in the $5,000 MarBill Hill U25 1.40m. Moved into the Thunderbird Jumper Arena to preserve the pristine conditions on the grass, 28 young athletes took on the 1.40m track, set in a speed format, and attempted to navigate the course clear and quickly.

As second to last in the order of go, Canada’s Anya Bereznicki and Diazella blazed around the track and took risks while keeping up the pace around every turn, crossing the beams in a time of 62.38. Second place honors went to Canadian Eric Krawitt and Chicago HD in 63.49 seconds, while fellow Canadian Carly Stevens rounded out the top three with VIP Des Majuros in 64.18 seconds.

Tickets for Saturday’s MLSJ Team Event and Sunday’s MLSJ Grand Prix start at $10 and are available at tbird.ca.

Daniel Coyle Dominates All-Irish Podium in $37,000 Grand Prix Qualifier CSI2*

The luck of the Irish began early Friday with the $37,000 Grand Prix Qualifier CSI2*, welcoming 51 competitors and concluding with an all-Irish podium topped by Daniel Coyle and Ivory TCS. Riders were intentional while also practical, keeping their tracks efficient without dropping rails in attempt to qualify for Saturday’s $37,000 Grand Prix CSI2*. Coyle stepped on the gas pedal with one of his younger mounts in order to cover the ground quickly between elements and turned back sharply around the steep corners to save time. After crossing the finish line, Coyle clocked in at 65.92 seconds, which would hold the lead until the end of the class.

“I always thought she was an amazing, amazing little horse,” Coyle said of Ariel Grange’s 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare. “But in the last year, she’s better than I even originally thought. The plan was to jump the two-star, then put her in the five-star next week. She’s a real one for the future for me.

“She’s a little bit of her own way,” Coyle continued. “She’s a bit sharp. Her legs are always everywhere when you need them to be and really fast. But when they’re so sharp like that, to be able to switch off and go back nicely, she does. So I think that’ll help her a lot in the end where she can have all the blood and all the madness when she needs it and then be nice and civilized also when she needs to be.”

Second place in the class went to Coyle’s brother, Jordan Coyle and Costa Diam, whose time was two seconds off his brother’s, coming home in 68 seconds. Daniel Coyle commented about the sibling rivalry, “Years ago I would have said, ‘I don’t care, whatever.’ But now I’m of the conclusion that once the helmet’s on nobody’s related.” Third place went to Ireland’s Paul O’Shea and Sexy Beast in a jump-off time of 71.69 seconds.

CSI2* athletes will compete again Saturday in the $37,000 Grand Prix CSI2*.

$37,000 Grand Prix Qualifier CSI2*
Place / Horse / Rider / Nationality / Owner / Faults / Time

1. Ivory TCS / Daniel Coyle / IRL / Ariel Grange / 0/65.93
2. Costa Diam / Jordan Coyle / IRL / Elan Farm / 0/68.00
3. Sexy Beast / Paul O’Shea / IRL / Eye Candy Jumpers / 0/71.69
4. Eothymm De Kergane / Sam Walker / CAN / Tal Milstein / 0/73.11
5. Castle OJ / Andrew Bourns / IRL / Andrew Bourns / 0/73.62
6. Veyron / Ben Asselin / CAN / Attache Stables / 0/73.86
7. Greya / Kent Farrington / USA / Kent Farrington LLC / 0/74.15
8. Ashton Dakota / Rowan Willis / AUS / Rowan Willis / 0/74.35
9. Teddy Z / Callie Schott / USA / Southern Arches, LLC / 0/74.48
10. Eurostar 1 / James Arkins / AUS / James Arkin / 0/75.32

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