Cian O'Connor
Olympic Bronze Medallist

Cian's Blog: June, 2010

Hoofddorp - A Beautiful Show With Great Facilities

  • Teaching at Listowel

Hi Everyone,

Sorry I'm a bit late putting up the blog this week, but I haven't had a minute and I'm just home now working on the computer.

The past two days I've been teaching down in Listowel in Co. Kerry at Dromin Hill Equestrian Centre. It's my first time teaching in Listowel and I think the participants enjoyed themselves.

It's often difficult to arrive in a place you haven't been to before and help people and I always stress to them it's not that they need to think there's something new, but rather to go back to basics and practice good quality work.

The show in Hoofddorp was amazingly well done for a two star event, a fantastic big sand arena situated just 10 miles away from Amsterdam airport. I achieved my main objective there, which was to give K Club Lady (seen left) a few easy rounds. She jumped two days, both times clear for a time fault and this should set her up well for Estoril, the Global Champions Tour this weekend.

Complete was also second in the Grand Prix Qualifier on the opening day of the show, where Mark Kinsella steered Irish Independent Echo Beach to a very creditable 4th place finish. Mark and Echo Beach were very unlucky in the Grand Prix when they chipped the back pole off a triple bar to finish 7th.

I was very happy with my Egyptian student, Ahmed Tolba. He's only been training with me now for about six weeks and he jumped very well in the Grand Prix, just having the last fence down and a time fault on his own horse Rocco, who I will ride this weekend also in Estoril.

It's back to boring old office work for the next 24 hours before flying to Lisbon on Thursday morning.

The Global Champions Tour second and third rounds will be on Eurosport Live on Saturday and hopefully we will feature!

Check back after the weekend for more news.

Best wishes,

The Flag Flies High In Finland

Hi Everyone

Just sitting at home after enjoying a lovely barbecue on Father's Day with my dad and sisters. It was great to hear the news coming in of the Irish team winning the Nations' Cup at Ypaja in Finland.

Joan Greene, Alexander Butler, Edward Little and Tholm Keane finished on a total of 5 faults which was enough to clinch victory ahead of the Belgians on 8 faults. This is a great victory for so many reasons.

All these riders jump mainly on the national circuit and work tirelessly producing and competing horses. It's a great reward for them and indeed as far as I know all four were riding horses belonging to owners, so this gives those owners a terrific boost.

I mean, it's nice to win national Grands Prix but I'm sure the four riders will agree there's nothing that comes close to the pressure of a Nations' Cup, and the pride and delight when things go according to plan and the green white and gold is raised.

Fair play to Paraic Geraghty (the chef d'equipe of the second team). He puts in a lot of work and effort and is so motivated and driven for the team to do well.

A rising tide lifts all ships - well done to all concerned.

I fly out to Holland on Wednesday and I'll be competing over the weekend at the 2 star show at Hoofddorp. K Club Lady has had two weeks off after her super second place performance in the Grand Prix at St. Gallen. I plan to just school her this week in two 1m40 classes in  preparation for the Global Champions Tour competition in Estoril, Portugal, the following weekend.

It promises to be a busy weekend for me as Mark Kinsella is also going to be in action with Splendor and Irish Independent Echo Beach and I'm coaching an Egyptian boy, Ahmed Tolba, who's based with me in Europe for the summer, and he will also line out with two horses.

Check back next week for more news.

Best wishes,

A Hundred Days To Go

Hey Everyone

This Thursday, the 17th of June, plays host to the 100 day countdown celebration for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. The new Alltech Games microsite on Here you can explore an interactive model of the Alltech Experience Pavilion, and learn about the tastes, sights and sounds of the Alltech FEI WEG.

This week I had the pleasure of visiting Alltech’s European Bioscience in Dunboyne, Co. Meath. They are the title sponsor of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky this September.

They are a hidden gem, as for more than 30 years Alltech has produced a range of feed ingredients that enable horses to reach their full performance potential through nutrition naturally.

My horses are fed Alltech products through Gain Horse Feeds. The company is a rapidly-growing brand in equestrian circles and has strong partnerships with feed producers around the globe. I learnt that they have over 65 official animal health and nutrition sponsors of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, and Gain Horse Feeds are the official Irish feed partner.

Knowing that the level of dedication they put into promoting and maintaining animal health is second to none, I jumped at the chance to take a look at where they operate and meet some of the people behind the Alltech brand, which was founded by Dr. Pearse Lyons.

I was brought on a tour of Alltech’s European headquarters by Christina Lombard. The level of commitment I saw first-hand there - from the team - was truly inspirational.

Throughout the pleasure of meeting staff, everyone had a word of encouragement for me as I prepare to represent Ireland at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in just over 100 days time.

That spirit of excitement and sense of pride shown by the Alltech employees is the same spirit that I hope to bring to the Alltech Games myself.

With some hard work and the same support the company has shown me over the years, I know that I can reach my full potential at this year’s Alltech Games – and maybe even bring back the gold in doing so!

However there's still a lot of work to do and with shows such as Estoril, Aachen and Dublin as my immediate targets, I'll be hoping to jump myself into a double-handed position with K Club Lady and Rancorrado.

Check back next week for more news.

Best wishes,

St. Gallen - A Tough But Rewarding Weekend

  • K Club lady in action at St. Gallen

Hi Everyone

The Meydan Series moved last weekend to St. Gallen in Switzerland, which is about an hour's drive from Zurich airport.

While the arena is very beautiful the show has been unlucky in recent years with the weather and this year was no exception. In fact the first day of the show was called off due to torrential rain and the tough track in the Nations' Cup on Friday made it all the more difficult as it was many of these horses' first day in the ring.

The Irish team team did well however to finish a very creditable 4th which leaves us lying 4th in the leaderboard so far after three legs of the Meydan Series.

K Club Lady jumped super, but in the first round of the Nations' Cup I rode her a little bit too quiet at the triple combination, and paid the penalty, having two parts down. In the second round she jumped the triple beautifully but we had an unlucky four faults earlier on the course, though I must say I was pleased how the mare was able to dig so deep. She really showed how big her heart is to come back and jump a good second round in difficult conditions.

She had a day off then to regroup before the Grand Prix and after some consultation with show jumping manager Robert Splaine we decided to pop her over a double in the practice arena on Saturday afternoon to make sure she was confident and jumping it well.

As the mare is very new to this level, and indeed with our partnership still gelling, there is no road map to go by, there is no script, and in many ways I'm just feeling my way along. It's great, therefore, to have the support of Robert on the ground. It's always good to have another pair of eyes.

The only way to describe yesterday's performance in the Grand Prix is that it was a revelation to me. To see the mare come to this level after never having experienced it before is really something. Out of 48 starters there were only two double clears - K Club Lady and Corradina with Carsten-Otto Nagel, who incidentally won a silver medal last year at the European championships.

K Club Lady answered all the questions - it was a big, long difficult course with an extremely tight time allowed, but she jumped it effortlessly. I'm absolutely thrilled with the result and I'm reminded of that Great American Hero song "Believe it or not I'm walking on air"!

With Rancorrado coming back after his break it leaves me with a very strong hand for the rest of the season. Over the next week K Club Lady has a break and then I will take her and Rancorrado to Hoofddorp and Estoril with the aim of building them towards Aachen.

I've no show for the next two weekends but will continue to blog nevertheless. Check back next week for more news.

A Strong Performance At Piazza Di Siena

  • Pictured beside the imposing Meydan fence during the course walk at the Nations' Cup in Rome

Hi Everyone,

The Piazza di Siena is situated just off Villa Borghese right in the heart of Rome city. This historical venue has a magical feel about it and there's something very special about competing in the middle of a city. In fact, every time you want to ride the horses from the stables to the main ring, you must ride straight across a roundabout and negotiate the traffic, which is trying be kept under control by the carabinieri and their whistles!

The Nations' Cup is always the highlight of these shows and it's vital that we put our best foot forward and get the best possible result. This year there are ten teams in the Meydan Series and four will be relegated and two promoted from the Promotional League.

With this in mind it's necessary to stay in the top half of the leaderboard so as to keep out of the relegation zone. The team finished joint third last Friday with Cameron Hanley jumping 8/0, Darragh Kenny 4/8, myself 4/0 and Billy Twomey 0/4.

It was a tough battle but it was great that everyone's score counted at least once and I was especially delighted with K Club Lady on her Nations' Cup debut. She jumped the course effortlessly and was unfazed despite this being the biggest test in her career to date.

Complete jumped super throughout the weekend, placing twice and I feel will be ready for some bigger classes again in the coming weeks.

This week the show moves to St. Gallen in Switzerland where I will jump K Club Lady, Irish Independent Echo Beach and Complete.

Please check out the Movie page for footage from Rome.

Best wishes,

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