Reigning HSI/Blue Grass Spring Tour Champion Daniel Coyle put in a thrilling display with Linzi Johnston's ever consistent Uptown Girl at Kildare International this afternoon to win the first Grand Prix of the National season.
Coyle made the long trip from County Derry with just the one horse to the Kildare venue and he made every inch worthwhile when running out an emphatic winner in the €2,500 kindly sponsored by the hosting venue.
From the 32 starters, seven combinations completed faultless rounds over the Tom Holden designed track along with Charles O'Reilly Hyland who left all the poles in the cups but just went over the time allowed to finish with a single time fault and he took eighth at the finish.
John Floody and Gerard Clarke both went into the Jump Off double handed along with Young Rider Darragh Ryan, Captain Michael Kelly and the eventual winner Coyle.
Meath based, Gerard Clarke was first to go with Horseware Kellswater Crimson and they looked set for a clear and set the early target when clipping the final fence to finish with four faults in 33.60.
John Floody was next in with PMR Rehy Irish All Star and he quickly set the standard in a bid to repeat his win at the same venue in 2011. He set off with intent and took a tight turn back to the fourth fence in the jump off before setting off down the final line and he crossed the line in 33.52 to go into the lead.
The other riders tried hard to bridge the gap but each found a fence along the way with the exception of Gerard Clarke on his other mount Horseware Ardragh Stein who crossed the line in 33.54 to finish in eventual third place.
Daniel Coyle then followed Gerard Clarke with Uptown Girl. The pair looked to be up on the clock approaching the fifth fence in the jump off and turning back to the final two fences the writing appeared on the wall as long as the poles stayed intact. Coyle set off at a gallop to the final fence and broke the beam in 31.74 to take the class.
So the reigning Champion took full points in today's opening leg of the HSI/Blue Grass Spring Tour at Kildare International, however, there is a long way to go between now and the final leg at Coilog on April 21st.
HSI/Blue Grass Spring Tour - Kildare International
Kindly sponsored by Kildare International Equestrian Centre
1st Daniel Coyle/Uptown Girl 0/0 31.74
2nd John Floody/PMR Rehy Irish All Star 0/0 33.52
3rd Gerard Clarke/Horseware Ardragh Stein 0/0 33.54
4th Gerard Clarke/Horseware Kellswater Crimson 0/4 33.60
5th John Floody/Kings Best 0/4 36.55
6th Capt. Michael Kelly/Ringwood Abbey 0/4 36.56.
32 Starters. 7 in Jump off.
Best Turned Out - Classe (Neal Fearon)
The Spring Tour is kindly sponsored by Horse Sport Ireland, Blue Grass Horse Feeds, The Showjumpers Club, Tagg Equestrian, Darragh Equestrian Solutions & Jumpinaction.net