Cian O'Connor
Olympic Bronze Medallist

Cian's Blog: December, 2009

Olympia - A Runaway Success

  • Rancorrado, 2nd in the Olympia World Cup, and winning the Grand Prix

Olympia is a real British institution situated in Kensington, about five minutes from central London. It is a magnificent exhibition hall built during Queen Victoria’s reign, and its Christmas International Horse Show has become the venue's flagship event.

The organisers really know how, and have succeeded, in putting the 'show' back into show jumping. In terms of getting backsides on seats, column inches in the print media and hours of tv coverage all over the world, they are light years ahead of other venues.

It must be said that the time of year, the setting, kids on holidays etc., all contribute towards its success, but they have managed to sell show jumping like theatre, where the people pay for an afternoon's performance or an evening performance.

We are the guys on show, and with small numbers in the classes, it's fast, easy to follow, and makes for great sport. Hats off to the organisers and of course - thanks for my invitation!

I had probably one of the best shows in my career to date. Splendor placed 2nd in the Accumulator, Echo Beach was 2nd and 3rd in two different speed classes, and Calista shared 1st place in the Puissance.

Rancorrado, however, was the star of the week. I gave him one class on Friday as a warm-up, and then kept him fresh for the two main events - the World Cup Qualifier on Sunday afternoon and the Grand Prix on Monday night.

He has been improving all the time and you may recall I said a few weeks ago in this blog that we would win something big before Christmas. Thank God I haven't lost the plot just yet, and Rancorrado delivered two magical performances. We were 2nd in the World Cup Qualifier, and then won the Grand Prix.

What an amazing Christmas present and reward for all who are part of my team. To quote my late grandfather Dr. Karl Mullen: 'there's no substitute for hard work and success is reward for effort'.

At times this job is frustrating. We all work tirelessly - grooms, stable staff, truck driver, vets, farriers, etc., and so often horses can jump well but have a fence down or the rider makes a mistake and the work seems in vain. However, one show like this and I realise once again why we go through it all in the first place - there's no better feeling than being a winner.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Paris, Gucci Masters - Sensational

  • Splendor in action

Just sitting in the lounge in Charles de Gaulle waiting for my flight home from Paris where I've been for the last number of days competing at the CSI 5 star Paris Gucci Masters. I had a good week overall, covering exes and getting a few bob on top. However I must admit the top spoils seemed to be elusive, as a vital pole denied me a chance of a jump-off in both Saturday night's and Sunday's big classes.

Everything about the show was world class. It was really well organised in every possible aspect The venue was beautiful, situated five minutes from Charles de Gaulle airport, and the main sponsor was Gucci, which in itself added a classy dimension to the event. It was very comfortable for the horses in terms of the stabling and two large warm-up arenas.

Rodrigo Pessoa is heavily involved in the organisation of this show, and having a competitor with an in depth knowledge of the game giving their input was a real bonus to the whole event, and set it apart from other shows in many respects.

Rancorrado was placed all the same in the three big classes in which he jumped and I have to say that Conrad Holmfeld the American course designer really tests both horse and rider, especially when using his signature trap - a forward distance to a short combination built beside the wall at the end of the course. Today we mastered that, but unfortunately touched off the last vertical behind which was a costly pole, let me tell you!

Rancorrado is jumping better than ever and today's course was probably one of the biggest I've jumped indoors. I do feel we are knocking on the door and what I keep telling myself is not to get frustrated, stay focused, stick with the plan and the big win will come.

I would like to congratulate Denis Lynch. He was the only other Irish rider at the show, where he produced two superb clear rounds with All Inclusive to finish second in the Grand Prix.

Splendor was also in the money for me, placing 4th and 6th respectively in the opening and the final 1m40s.

Busy week ahead, at home for a few days before travelling to Olympia which kicks off on Thursday. Check back next week for more news.

Best wishes,

Marseille - A Pleasant Weekend

  • Rancorrado in action

It was my first time at the 4 star show in Marseille last weekend, on the south coast of France.

It's a beautiful picturesque place, and I'm told it is the second biggest city in France. Wonderful scenery along the coastline and staying in the Pullman Palm Beach hotel overlooking the sea made for a great weekend. My mother Louise came with me for the weekend, which was good company for me, and a pleasant break for her.

Rancorrado and Echo Beach both paid their way. Rancorrado was 2nd in the main event on Friday night, and Echo Beach was 3rd in Saturday's two-phase. Both horses are in great shape and they join Splendor this weekend coming at the 5-star show in Paris.

I've been back to the miserable weather at home for the last few days and I head off to Paris tomorrow where there is a warm-up class ahead of the three days jumping at the Gucci Masters.

I also got some great news today when I received a personal invitation to appear at the World Cup Show in London, Olympia. This is one of the greatest indoor shows in the world. It gets huge crowds, great tv coverage and there's a huge buzz around London anyway, because it's coming up to Christmas. One of the highlights of the year and a show I'm really looking forward to.

Check back next week for more news and to see how Paris went.

Best wishes,

On The Move In Europe

Sorry I'm late in writing this week, but I've been pretty busy travelling around Europe trying some horses. I find this is a good time of year to try horses as people are keen to sell, coming into the winter, and with younger horses about to become a year older in January, you can sometimes do a better deal.

I competed at Maastricht over the weekend, Splendor jumped really well, placing in both the two competitions he entered. He now gets his weekend off as we are only allowed to bring two horses to Marseilles in France this weekend.

Rancorrado will jump the Grand Prix here and he's in great form, and I feel ready to deliver. I haven't jumped him since Verona, and Maastricht was the ideal warm-up to get him in the right frame of mind for Marseilles.

Irish Independent Echo Beach will be my second horse this weekend. She's simply a wonderful mare who owes me nothing and who no doubt will try her heart out as always.

Check back next Monday when I'm home from Marseilles for an update.

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