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Rolex Helps Bring Horses to Central Park
Rolex Central Park Horse Show
The annual Rolex Central Park Horse Show, which is taking place now through Sunday, September 25th, is a one of a kind event. Imagine having Olympic level horses and riders jumping over colorful fences right in the heart of Central Park with the New York City skyline as its backdrop.
That’s exactly what was happening on Thursday night, September 22, when the horse show showcased three events pitting juniors, professionals and those daring to face the big wall.
U.S. Open Under 25 Hollow Creek Farm Grand Prix
The U.S. Open Under 25 Hollow Creek Farm Grand Prix gave up-and-coming junior riders a chance to be showcased in one of the most visible venues ever. A total of 14 riders pitted themselves against a technical course designed by Guillerme Jorge, who was also the course designer for this year’s Rio Olympic Games.
Only a few riders were able to negotiate the course clean and after a speedy jump-off it was Daniel Coyle from Ireland who rode Fortis Fortuna to win the class. He was given the ride on Fortuna by fellow countryman, Conor Swail, who could not say enough good things about how talented this rider is.
“Daniel is a young guy, extremely talented and he does a good job with every horse that he gets. He’s a good guy, very easy to work with,” commented Swail, who would end up in second place later in the evening.
Although humble, the spry 21-year-old spoke clearly about how he rode the course, noting that this was his and his horse’s first time at the Rolex Central Park Horse Show and to win was a bonus.
“I am really happy about this. Conor rode the horse and very nicely gave her to me. I have to thank him for that. She has been a very good one for me. Our job is to prepare them the best we can but at the end of the day the horse does the jumping.”
Coyle explained that he makes his plan. “I just plan and try to stick to it. The guys told me the time was tight and so I had to tighten up my plan a bit.”
The tightening up did the trick and gave the young Irishman his first RCPHS victory.
Daniel Coyle Rides Fortis Fortuna to Victory
$40,000 U.S. Open Canadian Pacific Speed Class
Later that evening it would be Gold and Silver Olympic medalist McLain Ward who would dominate the $40,000 U.S. Open Canadian Pacific Speed Class. Ward was riding 28th out of a starting field of 34 riders. Harden Towell, as the third rider to go in the class on Lucifer V, had set a very fast pace until Ward and HH Carlos Z entered the arena a managed to go just a little bit faster.
Among the riders who made it to the jump-off was defending champion Swail, who knew from the start that Ward would be tough to beat.
“Right from the start Hardin put up a very good time. Then McLain went in; a very fast rider on a very fast horse. I was trying to leave out a step that no one else did,” explained Swail.
Try as he did in the end a second place finish was good enough for Swail. “My mare is an extremely careful horse and she has proven to be a very good jumper. I was very happy with her and a second place was a good place for her tonight.”
For McLain victory was sweet having recalled past RCPHS experiences including a couple of falls. So, for McLain this was a nice comeback and his one phrase said it all. “If Carlos is in form he is hard to beat.”
Ward & Kocher Win Puissance
$50,000 Engel & Volkers Puissance
McLain’s victories for the evening didn’t stop there as he moved right onto the next class, the $50,000 Engel & Volkers Puissance. After four rounds he claimed yet another victory riding ZZ Top VH Schaarbroek Z, but this time in a tie with Andrew Kocher riding C’Havinia. A total of seven riders started the class and by the third round only Ward and Kocher were able to negotiate the 6’3” wall clear, but when that wall jumped to 6’9” that was just a little too much for both their horses and knockdowns gave them the tie for the class.
“I haven’t ridden this horse in 5 years. He’s a wonderful catch horse,” McLain remarked. “It was a nice exciting class with horses jumping really well. I don’t think this is the type of class you need more than 7 or 8 horses doing it. The draw of this class is that it is something that everyone can easily understand.”
Kocher was happy with his tie. “This is my first time here and we are real excited to be here.” Kocher didn’t have much success in his last Puissance experience but quietly admitted, “I built a wall and I’ve been practicing for a couple of weeks.”
Well, if that’s what it takes to win a $50,000 class, that was certainly a good move.
Mark Bellissimo, the man behind the Rolex Central Park Horse Show, was happy with the evening and especially the Puissance.
“I think this could be a very fun and interesting class. We didn’t give them much time. When it was at the National Horse Show the Puissance was the big class. That class is easily understood. It takes a gutsy rider and a gutsy horse. We were sold out and most of the people stuck around.”
So, with that the evening ended on a high note and with both happy riders and spectators who were able to enjoy the beauty of New York in a new way.