Michael Whitaker, however, did best of all yesterday, when he jumped two clear rounds in the time allowed on Virtual Village Ashley to win the final leg and move up from 14th to fifth place. His elder brother John (who had won the second leg on Friday) advanced one place to 10th after 12 faults yesterday with Virtual Village Heyman. John, riding in his 20th World Cup final, has now finished in the top 10 on 13 occasions.
But it was Pessoa who stole the show, keeping cool under extreme pressure after a mistake in yesterday's first round left him no margin for error in the final showdown.
Coyle, from Portadown, refused to give the Brazilian any breathing space. Though he collected fractional time faults in both rounds on Cruising, his mount was the only horse to leave all the fences intact in all five rounds of the contest.
A single error from Pessoa in the final round would have given victory to 40-year-old Coyle, but the younger man never looked like obliging. "He's such a cool guy," Coyle said of Pessoa. "We keep waiting for him to crack but it never happens. We just seem to keep struggling in his wake."
Coyle, who was riding in his first World Cup final, is quite cool himself. He puts that down to his 14-year-old mount - "It's not difficult to stay calm when I can rely on him," he said.
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