Equestrianism: Coyle cruises to welcome success

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The Independent Online
TREVOR COYLE'S luck took a welcome turn for the better yesterday, when the 40-year-old Irishman jumped three wonderful clear rounds on the grey stallion, Cruising, to win the coveted Aachen Grand Prix.

Six weeks ago, Coyle was concussed when kicked in the face by a young horse at home in Northern Ireland, and he sustained multiple injuries which included a broken jaw. But his will to win has not been dented, as he proved with a swift clear round in yesterday's four-horse jump-off.

Anne Kursinski, of the United States, took up the challenge on Eros and she was faster by 0.14sec, but lowered one fence in the process to come second ahead of Sweden's Rolf-Goran Bengtsson and the Dutchman, Peter Geerink. Kursinski had stood to collect a bonus of pounds 40,000 if she had followed her victory in Monterrey last October with another win here, for both contests are part of the valuable Pulsar series.

"It wasn't to be," she said, "but I am proud of my horse. He did so well to jump clear in the second round, because he had lost a front shoe early on and was skating everywhere."

Three British riders (John Whitaker on Virtual Village Welham, his brother Michael on Ashley and Nick Skelton on Hopes are High) made a single error each over the first course, but they were nevertheless among the 18 who went forward to the next round. Further errors left John Whitaker the best of the three in 13th place, after Welham had lowered the last fence both times.

Coyle had often looked at the imposing plaque of past Aachen Grand Prix winners that stretches back to 1927. "It always inspired me to try and scribble my name on it," he said, having become only the second Irish rider to achieve the honour which Eddie Macken had won in 1978.

Cruising returns to the County Kildare stud run by his owner, Mary McCann, between shows. The next time Coyle links up with the stallion will be at next month's Royal International Horse Show at Hickstead. "It's always like old friends getting back together again," Coyle said.

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