The second week of international competition kicked off Tuesday night with a speed class, the 1.45 m $35,000 Friends of Rocky Mountain Cup, Presented by Pure North and Sponsored by Mermac Construction, Volker Stevin and NSI Scapes. While competition was more intense than the first week with many Americans and Canadians arriving in Calgary from the FEI World Cup Qualifier in Del Mar, California, this past weekend – the results remained the same as last week – Daniel Coyle and Fortis Fortuna took the win in the first night of competition.
Going 4th in the order of go out of 38 starters, Coyle was so smooth in his inside turns and gallops between fences, the crowd was sure that he would be surpassed. However, after holding their breath time after time with the likes of Andy Kocher, Beth Underhill, Lauren Crooks, and Hardin Towell – they saw a tight five to a narrow plank come down time after time and inside turns go awry leading to more conservative rides later in competition.
Fellow Irishman Conor Swail looked like he might catch him, first setting the pace with CK Coco Chanel, who eventually finished 4th, and then later on with two-time winner from the first week, Flower, who finished 3rd in tonight’s competition.
The one to make Coyle hold his breath, however, was Jim Ifko. Ifko, who was 2nd twice last week to Conor Swail, blazed around the course with daring angles and the fastest time with the 9-year-old stallion Un Diamant des Forets (Diamant de Semilly x Papillon Rouge). An unlucky rail at the plank, kept him out of the top position, but his sheer speed kept him in second place over a dozen clear rides.
“I walked the line and chose to do a galloping four strides. However, after watching the entire class do a tight five strides, I convinced myself to do that instead. It wasn’t the right ride for my horse – I wish I had done the four strides,” said Ifko.
Coyle, who jumped his first grand prix (clean!) at age 12 in Ireland, is based in Toronto, Ontario, and Wellington, Florida. He jumped the 12-year-old bay mare Fortis Fortuna (Quidam de Revel x Carthago) to the win, and also posted a clear ride on Cita, an 11 year old Holsteiner mare (Casall x Pik Ramiro).
Coyle, 22, plans to jump both horses in Thursday night’s qualifier to be prepared for Saturday Night’s FEI Longines FEI World Cup™ Qualifier on Saturday night. Riders are striving to represent their home country in 2018 Longines FEI World Cup™ Finals in Paris, France, in April.
The class brought new sponsors to the sport of show jumping and Royal West. James Wallace of Volker Stevin brought both colleagues and clients to their first show jumping event. “I had no idea how fast they would go. It was really exciting,” said Wallace. Darren Bailey of Mermac Construction also joined Royal West for the first year as sponsor and after the thrilling competition is excited to continue the partnership.