After plying his trade at home in Co Derry, showjumper Daniel Coyle achieved great success on the national circuit in Ireland, winning a number of major Grands Prix with his top mount Uptown Girl and more recently the chestnut stallion Zuidam.
However, after losing a number of good owners and horses in the winter of 2015, the then 20-year-old Coyle was at a crossroads in his career. In January 2016, through leading Malahide-based sport horse agent Barry O’Connor, Coyle went to the Winter Equestrian Festival in Florida to ride for Ireland’s Conor Swail and his Canadian owners Susan and Ariel Grange of Lothlorien Farm.
After a successful couple of months competing in Florida, the Granges asked Coyle to join their team full time as second rider to Swail. Coyle had a tough decision to make, leaving all he had built at home behind.
In the next nine months, Coyle would make a serious impact on the American and Candian circuit and when Swail decided to leave Lothlorien Farms last October, Coyle was promoted to the No 1 rider in the barn, picking up the ride on five-star horses such as Grafton, Simba de la Roque, Cita, Tienna and a number of promising young horses.
Just a few weeks into his new job, Coyle won the Grand Prix on week one of the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival riding Cita, exactly one year after he travelled to America to begin working with the young horses.
It is hard to keep track of the amount of times Coyle has been top of the podium so far this season, and he recently won the a leg of the prestigious Under 25 Grand Prix Series.
He thinks he got a lucky break, but after witnessing Coyle’s work ethic and performances in the ring, it is clear that luck has nothing to do with it.
“This time last year, I came here and worked for Conor, riding Sue’s horses. At the end of WEF, Sue asked me if I would go to Canada and I said yes. Obviously, I jumped at the opportunity. Conor went to Europe so I did a bit in the home barn and it went from there,” he told us.
“It’s a bit unreal for me, really. I kind of got lucky in so many ways and now I have ended up with a dream job. I kept working hard and ended up getting further along.
“Three years ago in Ireland I thought I was flying it, but then suddenly it all changed and I knew it was time to go. I didn’t have any horses, no funds and nobody backing me, so it was just really hard.”
Coyle is relishing his new role and encourages young riders to try everything they can to further their careers in a sport with so many excellent opportunities.
“If I was to give advice to young riders like myself at home, I would say you will know when it’s time to try something new – you will just feel it.
“It can be very tough in Ireland, and I’m not saying that America is the only place to go. There are so many good jobs in Europe and all around the world now, so many opportunities,” he concluded.