It was a thrilling evening at the Will Rogers Memorial Center for the Lugano Diamonds Split Rock Jumping Tour (SRJT) Fort Worth CSI4*-W, as top riders from around the world vied for victory in the $250,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Fort Worth, presented by Lugano Diamonds. After riders from 10 nations embarked on the adept track set by acclaimed course designer Anderson Lima (BRA) to create an incredible night of show jumping sport, it was Daniel Coyle with his own and Ariel Grange’s Legacy who rode away with the ultimate prize and coveted ranking points towards this season’s 2023 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final hosted in Omaha, Nebraska.

An impressive field of starters were tested over the course of 13 obstacles at 1.60m in height for the sixth leg of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ tour. Canada’s Erynn Ballard gave a packed house the first clear round of the evening as fourth in the order of go, riding Esperanza Import’s Gakhir. Just four trips later, a jump-off would be guaranteed as McLain Ward (USA) and Beechwood Stables’ Callas navigated the course in perfect form. Coyle and the 12-year-old mare Legacy added their names to the list three trips later. Despite a remaining start list stacked with world-class horses and riders, Lima’s technically built track would see no more clear rounds. Built to utilize every inch of the Will Rogers Memorial Center arena, crowds watched on as many fell victim to fence nine’s delicate plank built off of a tricky half stride from a triple bar.

“I think it was an educated crowd. They knew when you had a good round, they knew when you had a lucky rub, they knew when you knocked one down – I think they picked up early that the plank was kind of the bogey jump because there was always a little cheer when you jumped the plank clean,” noted Ballard. “It’s nice when you ride in front of an educated crowd and it certainly steps everyone’s games up. In North America, we don’t have too many opportunities where we ride in front of a packed crowd…to have the opportunity to bring World Cup Finals here in three years with an already educated crowd and a following is great for our sport.”

With just three combinations advancing into the second round of competition, it was set to be a showdown from start to finish. Ballard, as the first to go, had to make the decision whether to deliver a careful clear round or risk it all to be the fastest of the remaining two. Crossing the timers at 34.94 seconds with zero faults, the pair left some room for improvement. Shaving almost three seconds off of Ballard’s time, Ward utilized the 14-year-old mare’s tight turning abilities to eliminate strides throughout the course to finish in 32.60 seconds. As last to go, Coyle and his longtime partner, Legacy, were prepared to battle Ward for the top spot. Leaving nothing to chance, the pair were efficient across the track, leaving out a vital stride in the rollback from the double combination that edged them ahead of Ward by over a second.

“I had hoped after I had only seen three clears that it wouldn’t be as quick in the jump-off, but with McLain and Erynn in front of me – I had an advantage, but they didn’t make it easy so I was glad I was on Legacy going into the jump-off,” said Coyle. “I can just ask [Legacy] to do a whole lot more than the previous years. She’s actually quite quick now and she was very fast in the jump-off.”

Saturday night’s victory now seats Coyle comfortably atop the North American League standings, moving him up from third place ahead of last year’s World Cup winner in Fort Worth and fellow Irishman, Conor Swail. The return of the FEI Jumping World Cup™ to Will Rogers was especially exciting for 2022 as SRJT has secured the 2026 FEI World Cup™ Finals to be held in Fort Worth at Dickies Arena. Competition will continue for one final stop on the tour with the $300,000 Championship series at the Split Rock Sarasota in January.

Results here.