Cian O'Connor
Olympic Bronze Medallist

Cian's Blog

The National Championships - Great Competition But Some Tweaks Needed

  • Mark Kinsella and Irish Independent Echo Beach clearing the water at Coilog

The National Championship was run in Coilog this week over six days by the SJI.

Coilog Equestrian Centre is a wonderful venue and is a credit to the Byrne Family.

While the week-long show had big entries, I believe that we have far too many championships for young horses throughout the year. I mean, there's qualifiers for here, there and everywhere with no prestige in the different titles.

In my own view I would think the current show at the RDS could be used as the final for our young horses. I think we should have the final of the Premier Series at a venue like Coilog, for instance, but I just can't help think that there is a need to make the championships more prestigious, more of a spectacle.

The obvious way for me would be to go back to the old formula of Salthill many years ago where they had two classes every evening, a speed class and a jump-off class. In the end you had a speed champion and a national champion and while everyone must be commended for their efforts in running this week-long event I can't help think that it should be held somewhere like the Phoenix Park instead.

In countries like Holland and Germany they take over a big public venue for such an event, bring in corporate tents, set up a sand arena for the evening, and run it at 7pm so that there's a possibility of getting it onto TV. I just believe we need to think again about how we can enhance the image of the whole thing.

From my own point of view I'd no luck today. I suffered a fall with Markopoulo but we're both OK. He stumbled on landing after a fence and fell over. Both him and Splendor have done a lot of shows in a row, so they will both benefit from their few weeks off.

Mark Kinsella was fantastic with Echo Beach at Coilog, he was third in the 2nd qualification and finished 2nd today in the Grand Prix over a stiff track built by Alan Wade, who in my opinion has shown that he can build with the best in the world.

Mark has put in a lot of work and has come a long way in a short space of time and the thing I liked most about how he rode today was how calm and focused he remained. This championship gives riders the opportunity to jump and compete under pressure which in my book is invaluable. I don't mean to be critical of the good work done, but we must aim for the stars even if we have to settle for the moon.

In addition I'd like to congratulate Nicola FitzGibbon, who was a worthy winner of the National Championships with her consistent bay gelding Puissance.

This weekend I've no show. Rancorrado will be travelling to Windsor towards the end of the week, where the European Senior Show Jumping Championships begin next Tuesday week, August 25. Check back next Sunday for a preview for those upcoming championships.

Best wishes,

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