Cian O'Connor
Olympic Bronze Medallist


It's an Olympic bronze medal!

Cian and Blue Loyd as first reserve moved onto the final startlist today in London when Sweden’s Rolf-Goran Bengtsson’s stallion, Casall, was withdrawn after being sent to the holding box at this morning’s final veterinary inspection.

Despite being just second into the ring as today’s action began, Cian produced a copybook run with Blue Loyd to suddenly place himself very firmly in contention.

As round two began, Nick Skelton (Big Star) and fellow team gold medallist Scott Brash (Hello Sanctos) shared a zero scoreline with Cian, Frenchman Olivier Guillon (Lord de Theize), Steve Guerdat (Nino des Buissonnets) and Germany’s Marcus Ehning (Plot Blue).

When the round had finished, only Guerdat had a zero score, with Cian and Gerco Schroder forced into a jump-off for the silver and bronze medals as the only riders with one time fault each.

Schroder and London led the way in the jump-off for silver, setting the target with a clear in 49.79 seconds. Cian was well up on time with Blue Loyd, but kicked out the front rail at the final fence for four faults and bronze medal position. Asked afterwards why he hadn’t slowed to the last, considering he was almost two seconds quicker than his rival, the Irishman replied, “you had the benefit of looking at the clock. Unfortunately I don’t have a clock when I’m out there galloping around the place!”

Afterwards Cian said: “I came here to win a medal, and that’s what I did. Sure, I’d have loved to get the gold, but that time fault in the last round was tiny, but telling. I was disappointed to have the last rail down in the jump off, but I’m going home with an Olympic bronze medal, which I never imagined I’d have when I ended up on the reserve list after the third round.

“I’d like to dedicate it to all those who worked so hard for me to get here, and to those tens of thousands of Irish people who unreservedly supported me from the moment I touched down in London. They made it a truly magical experience for me.

"Special thanks must of course also go to my owners, the O'Reilly-Hylands, my coach Gerry Mullins for all his help and guidance and Team Ireland Show Jumping Manager Robert Splaine for all that he has done."

Cian and Blue Loyd selected for London Games

Cian has today been ratified by the Olympic Council of Ireland to take up one of two show jumping places at the London Olympics alongside Corkman Billy Twomey. The OCI statement says:

"The Olympic Council of Ireland has approved Horse Sport Ireland's nomination of Cian O'Connor as the second Irish show jumping rider for the Olympic Games in London.

The nomination was made by Horse Sport Ireland's show jumping Chef D'Equipe Robert Splaine for the combination of Cian O'Connor and his horse Blue Loyd.

Ireland will now be represented by Billy Twomey and Cian O'Connor in the individual show jumping event in Greenwich, London, which commences on August 5th."

Cian has been working towards an Olympic return for the past 8 years and indeed acquired and syndicated Blue Loyd with the goal of making it to London.

Cian says: "I've just learned of my selection to compete at the London Olympics on Blue Loyd. I am delighted to have this opportunity to compete again at the Olympic Games.

“The circumstances which led to my selection are most unfortunate for Denis Lynch, however I must now focus on the job at hand and ensure that both myself and Blue Loyd are in the best possible shape for the Games.

“I want to thank Robert Splaine, the Irish team manager and all those in Horse Sport Ireland and the Olympic Council of Ireland who have shown this confidence in me and the horse to perform at this level.

“Blue Loyd is an exceptional athlete and certainly has the potential to have a good games. Hopefully Billy Twomey and myself will perform well and give the Irish public, who have such a passionate interest in the London Olympics, a full and committed effort which will lead to the best possible results."

Cian and Blue Loyd go clear at Aachen and team finish third

Ireland produced their best result of the current Nations Cup series when finishing third at Aachen tonight, helped by classy clear rounds from both Billy Twomey on Je T'Aime Flamenco and Cian with Blue Loyd.

Cian had an unlucky fence down in the first round, but came back as last man in to leave all the poles standing and ensure that Ireland climbed to third place overall, behind Germany and winners France.

Cian said: "Blue Loyd and I are only together seven months and I really think we are starting to gel. It takes a while to build a partnership, but you can see how it is developing by tonight's performance. Aachen is the biggest Nations Cup in the world and Blue Loyd jumped it easily. I'm absolutely chuffed and very grateful to my owners for their support."

Cian and Blue Loyd selected for Aachen

Ireland's chef d'equipe Robert Splaine has announced his squad for the fifth leg of the FEI Nations' Cup Superleague, which takes place at Aachen on Thursday, July 5.

Aachen, traditionally considered to be one of the toughest competitions in the annual series, sees five of Ireland's top riders selected, including Cian.

The squad, in alphabetical order, is: Shane Breen, Dermott Lennon, Denis Lynch, Cian O'Connor and Billy Twomey, and is the same squad of riders who won at Aachen in 2010.

Cian will jump Blue Loyd in the Nations Cup.

Ireland sixth in Swiss Nations Cup

Cian had two good individual results at the five star show in St Gallen Switzerland but the Irish team finished sixth in the Nations Cup.

In the Two Phase on Saturday, Da Vinci's Pride gave Cian the runner-up spot behind Martin Fuchs, while on Sunday Cian again claimed second place, this time on KEC Alligator Alley, with Patrice Delaveau taking the victory.

Friday's Nations' Cup saw Blue Loyd throw a shoe in the first round, and subsequently have two fences down, but recovered to make just one error in the second. However, the team, which included Billy Twomey, Jessica Kurten and Shane Sweetnam, ended on a total of 28 faults. This put them ahead of France and Switzerland, but behind winners The Netherlands, and the Swiss, British, Germans and Belgians.

Ireland joint fifth at La Baule

THE Irish team finished in equal fifth place with Britain and Switzerland at Friday’s Nations' Cup in La Baule, France.

The first leg of the 2012 show jumping Superleague, which features the world's top eight teams, saw such a tight finish that the Netherlands were forced to enter a jump-off for first place with Belgium, which Belgium ultimately won.

Ireland finished the first round on just eight faults, with an opening clear from Cork's Shane Sweetnam and Amaretto Darco, with Jessica Kurten and Vincente accumulating five faults, and Cian on Blue Loyd and Denis Lynch with Lantinus each having one fence down.

Belgium and the Netherlands both finished on four faults, with the jump-off producing victory for the former.

Afterwards Team Ireland's show jumping manager Robert Splaine said: "This was a very tough competition. Olympic qualification was at stake for many of the combinations at La Baule today, so the level of competition was incredible.

"All of our riders put in good performances but at the end of the day we just didn't get enough clear rounds, although Shane Sweetnam gave us a great start and we had two more zero scores from Jessica Kurten and Cian O'Connor.

"Overall, I was pleased with the performance of our combinations and I'm just disappointed we didn't finish higher on the leaderboard."

Cian, who with Blue Loyd has jumped three clear rounds out of four in Nations Cups this season, conceded the first-round performance needed to be better.

"Obviously, having won last year, we would have preferred to do better and will need to look at an improved performance in our first round next time out," he said.

"I am excited with what lies ahead this summer. It is my intention to jump as many Nations Cup competitions as possible with Blue Loyd," he said, adding that he has ambitions to take one of the two individual slots available for Ireland in the Olympics, but feels he still needs to prove he is worthy of carrying Irish hopes in London 2012.

"It’s early days, but I’m very pleased with how the horse is developing and we will take one show at a time,"

Shane Sweetnam/Amaretto Darco 0/4
Jessica Kurten/Vincente 5/0
Cian O'Connor/Blue Loyd 4/0
Denis Lynch/Lantinus 4/4
TOTAL 12 faults

Da Vinci makes it a hat trick!

Da Vinci’s Pride (below), who won the Mullingar and Coilog legs of the HSI Bluegrass Spring Tour, made it a hat trick of wins for Cian in just three weeks.

He was drawn last to go in the opening leg of the TRM National Grand Prix series last Saturday and cruised home a second faster than his nearest rival, the very talented young rider, Michael Duffy.

Cian said afterwards: “Da Vinci’s Pride is just getting better and better. Today everything fell my way. Blue Loyd and KEC Alligator Alley both jumped clear rounds but with a long season in mind iI didn’t put them in the jump off so when Da Vinci’s Pride was clear I knew I had a real chance.”

Cian travels to Le Touquet in France this week with all three horses ahead of the CSIO at La Baule the week after.

Cian wins the final leg of an exciting league

Over 70 starters lined out for the final leg of the HSI Bluegrass spring tour in Coilog on Sunday.

The league had been tightly battled all along by talented Derry young rider Daniel Coyle and the experienced John Floody. Daniel was ahead coming into the final but didn’t jump clear on any of his horses in the final leg.

John was clear with one so Daniel had to sit it out and watch. Unfortunately for John he knocked the first fence in the jump off and Daniel breathed a scream of relief- it was a great finish to an exciting league and Daniel a worthy winner.

Cian was clear with both Coral Springs and Da Vinci’s Pride. Second last to go in the jump off, Da Vinci’s Pride (left) shaved over a second off the leader and when last horse in and a fence down, Da Vinci’s Pride added another victory to his tally.

Cian said afterwards "I’m thrilled with Da Vinci’s Pride - he’s so consistent. He’s had three starts in this league and has recorded two wins and a second. Full marks to the Riders’ Club, HSI and Bluegrass Feeds for making this league happen. It’s a great stepping stone to bigger Grands Prix and gives everyone a chance to step up to the mark".

Good finish to great circuit

KEC Alligator Alley (right) finished up on Sunday in Wellington placing 6th when jumping clear but incurring one time fault in the first round.

Cian says "Alley has been one of the most consistent horses of the circuit. He has jumped more clear rounds than most and we finished 3rd in the 1.50m league. It has been great mileage for him at this level and he has earned his Spring break!".

Blue Loyd jumped outstanding in the final 500k Grand Prix which was built by Alan Wade, Ireland’s international course designer. There were only three clears from 45 starters and incidentally no double clears as all three in the second round had one down. 

Cian and Blue Loyd looked set to be clear when coming down the final line of three fences. Jumping the massive black oxer and then the flimsy planks the crowd got ready to cheer only to see a late falling front rail off the final oxer to incur four faults for the pair.

Cian said" To have the last was a real sickener especially after getting all the hard stuff out of the way. I always take the positive out of each situation and I couldn't be happier with how Loyd is going. This trip was always focused on developing a partnership with him and the two classes I aimed him at at start of circuit he excelled in both, i.e., the Nations’ Cup where he was double clear and the last night finale which he jumped outstanding.“

Great weekend on two new mounts

Cian acquired two new horses this week (click here to read more) and they both jumped superbly over the weekend.

Da Vinci’s Pride, who is by an Australian thoroughbred won the Mullingar leg of the HSI Bluegrass Spring Tour Grand Prix. See video here. The following day at Ennis Cian and Da Vinci’s Pride were runners up.

Coral Springs (right), the exciting new 8yr old Irish bred gelding was clear and four in Mullingar and jumped two fantastic rounds in Sunday's Grand prix at Ennis to finish 4th.

Cian said afterwards: “I’m thrilled with both horses. This league is a great introduction for bigger classes and allows me the chance to get to know the horses. Da Vinci’s Pride is really competitive and I'm looking forward to bringing him with me to some international shows in May.

“Coral Springs is another one of those Irish horses who has been produced quietly in the background. He's a class jumper and I’m hopeful that he will follow in the footsteps of his countrymen - Larkhill Cruiser and KEC Alligator Alley - whom I’ve had considerable success with. People will say there are no Irish horses around but I’ve found three in 12 months who can all jump Grands Prix!!"
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