Cian O'Connor
Olympic Bronze Medallist

Cian's Blog: May, 2010

Ready For The Challenge

  • The famous Piazza di Siena, where the Rome Nations' Cup will take place

Hi everyone,

Last weekend I decided to rest the horses and they left yesterday on a long journey to Rome.

Originally Rome was not in my plan as I only have been riding K Club Lady for seven weeks and ideally would like a little more time before I'd do a Nations' Cup.

However Robert Splaine was stuck and after asking all the other eligible senior riders who were not already scheduled for the squad, they were unable to come forward for one reason or another and I decided I'd never see the team stuck, so that’s why I'm togging out this week!

I've done a few big classes already at Valencia and Hamburg so I feel that we are ready for the challenge, so fingers crossed!! I also take Complete and Irish Independent Echo Beach.

I went to Kill on Saturday to help Mark Kinsella and watch the horses jumping. I was particularly impressed with Arabella who was double clear with him in the 1m30. They both compete at the first RDS qualifier this year in Coilog on Wednesday, where they will be looking for a slot in the new 7 and 8 yr old class.

Check back over the weekend for updates from the CSIO in Rome.

Best wishes,

No Wages In Hamburg!

  • The carriage used during the prizegiving ceremony at Hamburg

Hi Everyone,

Just got back from Hamburg where I only brought K Club Lady, but we had two down in the Global Champions Tour on Saturday.

The mare actually jumped great but it's only our second Grand Prix at this level and we are still getting to know each other. At one of the faults I used too much leg which got her too forward at a vertical and at the other mistake I maybe didn’t use enough leg and chipped a back pole.

It's kind of frustrating to be jumping the hard stuff so well and yet making little errors. However as I said before a new partnership takes time to develop and we are jumping the biggest tracks in the game so I'm very confident as we gel together the double clear rounds will follow at this level.

I was surprised at the show to be quite honest. I mean it's a major historical event in the show jumping calendar with the famous Hamburg Derby, which took place yesterday, but I suppose because Aachen is such an amazing event I was expecting something similar here.

The whole place had a rather agricultural feel about it, the stable area was untidy, ground not great in either the work arena or the main ring and the warm up quite small for a show of this size. It was fine, I'm not cribbing, just calling it as I saw it.

It's a great shame that the powers that be allowed a Global Tour to clash with the Meydan Nations Cup in La Baule. Competition is good and what the Global Champions Tour and Jan Tops have done for the sport has without doubt revolutionised show jumping and added great prestige to the game.

However the FEI should not allow the Meydan series to become the riders' second choice and therefore they must look at ways of making those shows even more attractive to the top riders. Prize money, ranking points and perhaps slightly reducing the heights of the Nations' Cups which had the reputation heretofore of being the biggest test with not necessarily the biggest pot.

Next weekend I give K Club Lady a week off while Complete and Irish Independent Echo Beach jump at a small international show in Zelham, Holland.

Rancorrado arrived to my base in Holland last week. He's in great form after his break and I will start to jump him at home this week and plan to compete him next month. Looking forward to jumping him again and I would like to build him towards the Nations' Cup in Aachen in July.

Check back next week for more news.

Valencia - Opening Round A Great Success

  • One of the spectacular views of the arena

In what can only be described as one of the most unique venues in the world for an international horse show, the opening leg of the Global Champions Tour was a wonderful success. The arena, like last year’s inaugural event, was fitted out over an artificial lake next to the Museo de las Ciencias Principe Felipe which allows a fitting backdrop to the world’s greatest horses and riders.

K Club Lady jumped superbly and finished fourth in Friday's main event only one and a half seconds behind the winner, Canada's Eric Lamaze with his Olympic winner, Hickstead. In Saturday’s Global Grand Prix, my biggest test to date with K Club Lady she again acquitted herself extremely well and was unlucky when knocking the third last jump.

I then pushed on for a quick time and in the process got a little flat to the last jump and had it, to finish on eight faults. Remembering I only got her five weeks ago I'm delighted at the progress we've made and how quickly our partnership is coming together.

The Grand Prix was won by French rider Tiomothée Anciaume with the amazing stallion Lamm de Fetan. It was nice to see them land a big one as they have been knocking on the door for some time. I first saw the horse originally four years ago as a 7 year old in Arezzo, Italy. Even then he looked like a pure machine and its nice to have seen him come through from a novice to one of the top three horses in the world at present, in my opinion. I have already used some of his semen on my mares and am so excited to see the progeny.

The show organisers, Oxersport, put on a gala dinner on Saturday night. It was done with great style and pure elegance. They presented an award to Lamm de Fetan's owner Grégory Mars and also a lifetime achievement award to HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum for his contribution to horse sport.

On a big screen they showed the Godolphin operation in Dubai and had interviews with Sheikh Mohammed where he gave an in depth insight into his great love of horses and the passion for all equine sports. It was wonderful to see his son HH the Sheikh Ahmed Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum who was present on the night to accept the award on his father's behalf.

Overall no stone was left unturned in the running of this event and once again it’s plain to see the benefits that this concept of the Global Champions Tour, which was the brainchild of Jan Tops, injects to our sport.

I’ve just boarded a flight to Dublin, and with all the uncertainty regarding the ash cloud and flights being cancelled, I never thought I'd say it, but I was never so happy to see the front door of Ryanair's Boeing 737!!

Next week I take K Club Lady to Hamburg for the second leg of the Global Champions Tour.

Check back next week for more news.

Riders Slow Off The Mark

Hi Everyone,

K Club Lady and Complete are leaving Holland tonight to make their way to Valencia in Spain which starts on Friday.

This will be the opening leg of the Global Champions Tour and despite only having the mare to ride for the last four weeks I'm confident of a solid performance in next Saturdays €300k Grand Prix. All the classes at these shows carry ranking points so hopefully Complete can help me win some of those also.

I want to touch briefly on the recent events at the world cup final and express my views on the direction the sport is going.

Firstly I was not in Geneva and therefore I am only able to write about the broader picture and not the specifics of the disqualification of McLain Ward's mare Sapphire.

Mc Lain was leading the overall standings after the second leg but his mount was subsequently eliminated from the event following clinical examination by the FEI vets who deemed her unfit to compete further as they believed she showed signs of hypersensitivity to a part of her left front leg. In any case, this goes down badly for everyone and in an already difficult financial climate, new sponsors will not be encouraged by this type of publicity.

As riders we must put the welfare of the horses above all else and I welcome the new medication rules of April 5th 2010, which will hopefully give more clarity to the vets and us and in turn have less positive cases.

However the situation that took place in Geneva threw up many questions. A horse was eliminated despite passing the veterinary inspection and despite having no heat abnormalities on the thermograph scan. This was done on the opinion of experienced vets' clinical findings, i.e., the horse lifted its leg when touched.

Again stressing that the welfare of the horse is paramount I believe a dangerous precedent for our sport which could have grave repercussions for the future was set following the decision taken by the FEI to eliminate Sapphire.

In January 2008 the FEI  introduced the rule that if a horse was deemed to be hypersensitive it would be eliminated without any appeal and deemed unfit to compete.  However without the need on themselves to have any proof or substantial evidence, rather the opinion of certain individuals, it leaves it vague and in my opinion a grey area with room for error.

It's typical of "us" (riders) though, to be arguing about a rule two years after it came into being. The riders should have seen this coming and in the end of the day, if united, could have a huge voice in conjunction with the FEI on the direction of the sport. But no. We usually are too self absorbed worrying about the next show, horse, class or  whatever and instead of looking down the tracks we'd rather wait for the inevitable and then bitch like cackling hens.

I'm sure there will be more to come with this case and as it's the first time this rule will be tested at this level and very much in the public eye, the outcome will have a lasting impact on the future of show jumping.

Check back Sunday night for a report on Valencia.

Best Wishes,

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