Cian O'Connor
Olympic Bronze Medallist

Cian's Blog: May, 2009

Madrid - World Class!

  • Complete - won the Madrid Grand Prix Qualifier

CSI 5* Madrid is one of the best-kept secrets in the show jumping calendar. I suppose I shouldn't say it too loud but when you ask people which is their favourite show very few say how good Madrid is, but I think that's because some haven't been and the ones who have been don't tell anyone as they want to keep it for themselves!

First of all the show is set inside the grounds of Club de Campo. This is one of the biggest clubs in Europe with many sports being catered for in one centre just outside the city of Madrid. The arena is rather special for a couple of reasons - first of all the ground is as close to a golfing green as you'd ever see, and they also make their own fences, and what I like about them is that they're not the same old jumps we meet at every show every other week. They're a bit bulkier, with a slightly heavier pole and cup, and I find the horses jump fantastic in this ring, and also you feel you can really ride at the jumps.

The weather was great for the most part and the classes were very competitive. Complete jumped out of his skin all weekend, winning the Grand Prix Qualifier where he beat the Olympic champion Eric Lamaze and Hickstead. We were very unfortunate in the Grand Prix itself, Complete having his heel on the tape of the water for 4 faults, and then we went on to place 10th the following day in the King's Cup.

Madrid's also a beautiful city and I went into the centre one night for dinner with some other riders, but I didn't try any traditional Spanish food, but played safe in the Hard Rock Cafe which you will find in Christopher Columbus Square and where you always get a good steak.

The Irish team jumps in Rome this week, and I wish them all the best. I'll be competing at the CSI2* in Mullingar, before travelling out to St. Gallen to join the squad the following week. Anyway, I 'll report back before then. Don't forget to send me any questions you have for the 10 Questions Page. I'll be answering those questions next week.

Talk soon.

La Baule - A Classical Event

  • Complete delivers his clear round during the Meydan Nations' Cup

The seaside village of La Baule is quite simply special. The riders stay at l'Hermitage Hotel overlooking the beach compliments of the CSIO organisers. The show is then a five minute walk away, where they have built brand new state of the art stables and also a fantastic new warming-up arena.

When you go to a show like this you come away thinking you cannot beat a good grass surface, as there's something traditional about jumping these big classes on grass.

It was nice to see Irish support at the show and it makes a great difference to the riders to see the flag in the stand, especially on Nations' Cup day.

I was pleased with my week overall. Baloufina won a class and was third in another. Complete jumped a superb clear in the Meydan Nations' Cup.

Team jumping is very special, but there's no 'i' in the word team and it's about everybody doing their best on the day. The great thing about Nations' Cups is that every score counts towards the result. I've had days when I've been the discard and people have bailed me out by jumping clears, and on this occasion it was my turn. That is the nature of team jumping - everyone tries to support one another.

I feel that there are strong combinations developing in the squad which will give Robert Splaine the ammunition to make a plan of attack for Nations' Cup shows coming up in the future.

I'm in the middle of giving a two-day clinic in Madrid before moving up to the Club de Campo where I will compete in the CSI5* with Complete, Splendor and PS I love You.

Check back over the weekend on the news page to see how I'm getting on.

Best wishes,

Valencia - A Wonderful Spectacle

  • The remarkable construction at Valencia, where the Global Champions Tour arena was built

Hi Everyone

Just finished up at Valencia in Spain after three days of competition in the five star Global Champions Tour event. The show was held in the Museum complex in the centre of Valencia, which was very special and unique.

There were several large pools surrounding the museum and one of these was drained and in which they constructed the arena. I gather this area was at some stage a bit like Dublin's Docklands and this innovative Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava developed these wonderful structures.

On the jumping front I had one place with Baloufina in the opening 1m40 where she finished 8th. In the main Global Tour event Complete had two fences down. I have to say he actually jumped very well and as I haven't competed him since Arezzo last month he was probably too fresh, but I'd say will come on from the trip and should jump better in the Nations Cup at La Baule next week.

My aim is always to swap the horses around and never do too much with one particular horse, but this weekend has given me a little wake-up call, that I have to get the balance better where they aren't too fresh and need an outing before they can deliver the goods.

I'm flying to Nantes now, where Rancorrado and some of the other horses are stabled in advance of La Baule which begins on Thursday. The squad for La Baule is myself, Denis Lynch, Kevin Babington, Shane Sweetnam and Thomas Ryan.

While competing in the grounds of Santiago Calatrava's brainwave was most beautiful, unfortunately it was not the most profitable for me. However the great thing about show jumping is that there's always next week!

Chat to you then.

Survived To Tell The Tale!

  • Echo Beach gave me a win on the first day at Lummen

Hi Everyone

Just now on the flight from Brussels heading home after a long week in Lummen. When I say long I mean because the days were long and there were so many horses in each class it become quite tiring.

My horses jumped well and were well placed, including a win for Echo Beach (see the News Page), however the Nations Cup is one I'd prefer to forget!

I was jumping Splendor in the Nations' Cup on Friday and he had been jumping so well previously - he won the 1m40 in Dundalk last weekend, and he jumped clear in the 1m50 on the first day at Lummen. However in the Nations' Cup he spooked at the treble. When he took this aversion I banged my chin off his neck in the process and had to get five stitches, something I was less than happy about, but I did survive to tell the tale!

However, the lads went on to finish a very creditable 3rd, and I felt a bit better to learn that even if I had jumped a double clear we would only have improved one place and finished second, so that gave me some solace.

I'm back home for a few days, and will be at Coilog to watch the Premier Grand Prix tomorrow. I fly to Valencia on Thursday for the Global Champions Tour where I will compete Complete and Baloufina.

Bring you a full report this day next week. Have a good one.

Best wishes,

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