Cian O'Connor
Olympic Bronze Medallist


UAE tour finished in good style

Michael Duffy and Cian finished up their U.A.E tour in good style at the World Cup Show in Dubai. It was the last of three shows that they did, the other two being Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. All horses improved on the tour and it was really great experience for them.

Michael was 5th in Friday's Grand Prix qualifier world ranking class with O'Connell Street and rode a super accurate round. Cian was pleased how his horses jumped saying, "Ulano was consistently in the prizes, Copycat learned an awful lot and is for sure a top horse for the future, and Unique was outstanding every time he jumped - he was third in Friday's GP qualifier and 6th in the GP itself”.

“It was a most enjoyable trip on many levels and it's fantastic to see how quickly the level of competition has developed on the Arab league and I've no doubt will continue to grow.”

Cian wins The Irish Field's 2012 Showjumper of the Year Award

  • Cian and Irish Field Horse World Editor Sascha Geraghty in Co. Meath today, where Cian was presented with the Irish Field's Irish Show Jumper of the Year Award for 2012

OLYMPIC bronze medallist Cian O’Connor was presented with The Irish Field’s prestigious 2012 senior show jumper of the year award at a ceremony in Co Meath today (Tuesday).

The show jumper overcame a number of late challenges to take his place in the show jumping final at London 2012 and went on to secure the bronze medal on Blue Loyd 12, who was then owned by the rider and the O’Reilly Hylands.

Denied a place in the jump-off for gold by just 0.02 seconds, O’Connor returned to the main arena at Greenwich Park to decide the silver and bronze medals. He looked set for silver until the final fence came down, leaving him in the bronze medal position. In doing so, he secured Ireland’s first equestrian medal at the Olympic Games.

O’Connor and Blue Loyd 12 returned to the Dublin Horse Show, where they joined three other Irish combinations to land the Aga Khan Trophy. It was the first time Ireland had won the historic trophy in eight years, a victory that O’Connor was also part of. He had shown good form earlier in the season at Wellington in Florida and on a tour in the United Arab Emirates, along with the Nations Cup shows around Europe.

“2012 was a really amazing year for me and I am deeply honoured that The Irish Field has seen fit to acknowledge my achievements with this award,” said O’Connor. “In particular, I am delighted that such a prestigious publication has recognised the significance of my Olympic bronze medal – the first Olympic equestrian medal ever to be won in Ireland’s long and distinguished history in the sport.

“I would like to dedicate this award to all the great Irish riders who have preceded me, the people who over decades made this country a byword for equestrian excellence and to whom we all owe a great debt of gratitude.”

Co Meath event rider Sarah Ennis was honoured with the senior event rider of the year award. Ennis showed a remarkable level of consistency last year, featuring in the top-four at all of the international events in Ireland, which resulted in her being the highest ranked Irish rider on the HSBC Rankings.

Highlights in Ireland included her victory at the Ballindenisk International in September, while she was also second to British Olympian William Fox-Pitt at the Tattersalls International Horse Trials in May. In between those performances, Ennis was third at Britain’s prestigious Belton International.

The dressage rider of the year award was presented to Paralympian Helen Kearney. The Co Wicklow-based rider, who has a progressive degenerative disorder, enjoyed a remarkable few days in London, claiming three medals.

Riding Mister Cool, Kearney first claimed silver in the Grade 1a individual competition at Greenwich Park, a performance that was crucial in the Irish team taking the bronze medal. She followed up by winning bronze in the individual freestyle test Grade 1a.

The junior event rider of the year accolade went to Cathal Daniels from Co Galway. Following two national victories and a good fifth place at the Tattersalls International Horse Trials, Daniels was selected for the Irish team at the European Championships in France.

Riding the home produced Master Murrose, Daniels was instrumental in securing team gold and achieved a personal highlight by winning individual gold.

Paraic Kenny from Co Wexford was awarded the junior show jumper of the year award. Highlights of his year included being part of Ireland’s Pony Nations Cup-winning team in France last April, while he also won the Pony Grand Prix at Hagen in Germany during the summer.

Riding his winning mount Grey Ross, he was selected for the team that travelled to the European Championships in France. After winning the first qualifier, he went on to finish best of the Irish in individual 18th.

Good start on Gulf Tour

Cian and Michael Duffy have competed at two shows in the Arab World Cup League. Over the past two weeks the pair jumped at Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. Michael has been consistently in the places and was 5th in a world ranking class with Acorada in Abu Dhabi.

Cian was 2nd in the opening feature class in Abu Dhabi with Unique, and the pair went on to place 7th in the Grand Prix. Ulano was 6th in the Grand Prix qualifier at the same venue. In Sharjah, Unique was third in the Grand Prix qualifier and Ulano 9th in the Grand Prix.

Next week is a week off before the action kicks off again in Dubai on 31 Jan - 2 Feb at Emirates Equestrian Centre, where Irishman Paul McAuley is show director.

Rounding off a successful competition at the Olympia

Cian topped off another successful tour at the London Olympia finishing a credible 2nd place with ISHD Dual Star in the 1m60 H&M Ivy Stakes on the penultimate day of the competition.

The 10 year old mare had only jumped 1.40m before, but Cian felt that her 3rd place in the speed class on Friday showed an upsurge of confidence. She jumped a double clear and was only 0.07 slower than the winner, to take 2nd prize.

Marc Houtzager from Holland took the honours in the World Cup with Tamino, while Ulano found the tight arena and electric atmosphere abit too much and was saved for another day.

Another win for Splendor in the Santa Stakes

Splendor has captured a second win for Cian in the 1.60m Santa Stakes at the London International Horse Show at the Olympia.

Cian rode second in the jump off, setting a fast pace that remained unbeaten by the remaining 5 riders, to claim the first prize of £5,000.

ISHD Dual Star also stepped up to the mark when jumping a fast clear round with ease in the 1m50 speed Christmas Tree Stakes, finishing in 3rd place behind Ben Maher and Marcus Ehning.

Splendor wins the Christmas Pudding Stakes at the Olympia

  • Splendor winning the Christmas Pudding Stakes at the Olympia

Cian, riding 13 year old gelding Splendor, claimed the big class of the night, the 1.50m Christmas Pudding Stakes at the Olympia.

One of only 7 horses in the jump off, Splendor posted a clear round and the fastest time, beating Britain's Tina Fletcher by 2.52 seconds.

Cian, who is Ireland’s only representative at the London venue, said: "I hadn't really planned on turning that tight back to the double but I got a rush of blood to the head and it came off! Splendor loves this arena and has won here previously so I was thrilled that we were able to win the feature 1.50m jump off class on the opening day."

Cian makes history in Croke Park

  • Cian makes history in Croke Park

Cian made history on Tuesday by bringing the first ever showjumping to Croke Park where he re-enacted his bronze medal win by jumping a replica of the iconic London bus fence from the 2012 Olympics.

The home of GAA welcomed Ireland's equestrians ahead of Horse Sport Ireland's 2012 Achievement Awards where Cian was honoured alongside the other members of the winning Aga Khan and Hickstead Nations Cup teams, Darragh Kerins, Richie Moloney, Clem McMahon and Shane Breen.

Cian, riding a new horse named Carlo, said: "It was really special to be the first show jumper to jump a fence in Croke Park."

"When you're in the preparations for the Olympics you're wired to the moon. So now it's starting to sink in and I'm able to reflect and look back on it, which is really special," he said. 

"Full credit to Horse Sport Ireland’s chief executive Damian McDonald and the Croke Park management for making it happen."

Watch the YouTube video »
Read about it in the Irish Examiner »

Blue Loyd has been sold

  • Blue Loyd in action at the London Olympics

The brilliant Blue Loyd who with Cian in the saddle made history this year by being the first Irish equestrian Olympic medal winner ever, has been sold.

Cian only began riding Blue Loyd last November and the pair quickly racked up impressive results in Wellington Florida, most notably a double clear for the Irish Team in the Nation's Cup. Clear rounds followed in the Nation's Cups at La Baule, Rotterdam and Aachen which turned out to be the perfect preparation for the London Games.

Blue Loyd’s new owner is Frank Stronach, the Austrian born billionaire businessman, who is extremely well known in racing circles and has been involved in breeding and racing horses for more than forty years.

O'Connor comments: "Mr Stronach, a genuine horse lover and equine enthusiast, was keen to buy Blue Loyd because of his excellent result at the Olympics and being a true horseman recognizes the horse's bravery and will to win. I wish his new rider the best of luck and I know they will be very successful."

Ideal Warm Up For London

Both Ulano and Dual Star (below) were consistently placed at the Christmas show in Stockholm, Sweden this weekend.

Dual Star, who has never competed outside Ireland before , really rose to the occasion, placing 6th and 7th in the opening two days and then finished third in the 1.40m final. Click here to watch the round.

Ulano was 6th in Friday’s main event and with an unlucky vertical in round one of the Grand Prix he finished 6th behind Swedish favourite Baryard-Johnsson, who took the honours.

Cian said: " Stockholm was a great event and really got myself and the horses sharper over the weekend which should set us up well for London in a few weeks time"

Cian wins all at Cavan!

Cian racked up an impressive tally of results at last weekend’s Cavan international show.

Riding Trebox Acorada (below) he was 4th, 2nd and 2nd in the three speed events. On Friday evening he produced an amazing performance with Ulano to finish just in front of Eddie Moloney- by .01 of a second which meant he won the class and also the Gain/Alltech Autumn Grand Prix league.

In the same class Cian was also 3rd with a new Irish Sport Horse mare Dual Star.

Again on Sunday night in the feature Cavan international Grand Prix he and Ulano were one of just two clear rounds in round one.

In the second round he had the advantage of going behind Rebecca McGoldrick of Canada and although she jumped a tidy clear Cian and Ulano matched it but a little quicker to take the class and the Leading Rider of the show award.

Cian said: "It has been a great show for me here at Cavan. I’m particularly pleased with Ulano who won two very good classes here in great style. It's my birthday tomorrow so these wins have been the perfect present!”
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