Cian O'Connor
Olympic Bronze Medallist

Cian's Blog: September, 2010

Anxious Moments...

  • K Club Lady in action

Hi Everyone

With just four days to go before the Irish Show Jumping horses fly to Kentucky you could say that everyone is just a little bit on edge.

Kentucky hosts the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games this month and next. The World Equestrian Games fall every four years, with the Olympic Games occurring directly in the middle, and the other two years are filled with European championships. In essence in show jumping we have a championship every year, within a four year cycle.

K Club Lady feels in great shape, she's an extraordinary mare and not too many people would have believed when she landed in my yard on April 1 this year that we would be a part of the Irish team for the world championships.

Her results have been very consistent right from the outset, the most notable being double clear in the Nations Cup at Aachen, 2nd in the Grand Prix in St. Gallen, clear in the Nations' Cup in Dublin, and just two weeks ago a double clear in the Grand Prix in Madrid.

These are solid consistent performances and my goal for Kentucky will be to ensure that the mare arrives there in top shape for I believe she will be able to contribute very well towards the team's efforts.

My main goal in Kentucky is solely around the team performance, in trying to secure a team medal and in a worst case scenario to finish in the top five, which will ensure that we qualify for the 2012 Olympics in London.

The team medals will be decided over three rounds - the opening leg which is a 1m55 Table C speed, and two rounds of the Nations Cup which take place on different days. A rider's scores are added together for the three rounds and as always in Nations' Cups the best three riders' scores count and this will determine the team placings.

Following this the horses have a day off and then those qualified will jump in the final two round individual competition and then the following day the four on the best aggregate score during the week will jump in the famous World Championship Final Four, which entails them riding each other's horses as well as their own.

As I said, my main goal is to contribute as much as I can to the team and anything else after that will be a bonus. K Club Lady and I will only be together six months when Kentucky is on, and quite often it takes significantly longer for partnerships to develop, so I'm really just delighted how well things have gone so far this year.

It's always a difficult time in the lead up to a major event as to decide how much work or jumping to do with the horse. I always find less is more and to try and treat it as just another competition while taking extra care that nothing unnecessary happens due to carelessness.

In the last few days I've spent many hours with the horse, from grooming her, watching her expression, to riding her and walking her in hand for grass. You get to know where the horse is at mentally and I can see it in her eye that she's ready for a big occasion. I'm sure I have everybody around me tortured but I'm so pernickety about the small details and as I've said already taking extra care to ensure no silly mistakes.

I'll be glad when she's on the plane to Kentucky and lands there safe and sound. Say a prayer for me that she has a safe journey. You can follow regular updates on this site on how our trip is going. I'll be putting up a new page on the website for a WEG diary so check back next Wednesday to find out what's going on.

Best wishes,

Madrid - Served Its Purpose Well

  • In action at Madrid last week

Hi Everyone

Last week in Madrid my three horses jumped very well. I finished 2nd in the Pusissance with Noctambule Courcelle at 2m12. Sebo, which is a new horse to me (pictured below), jumped really well all weekend and was clear in the 1m45 on Saturday.

The main reason for my trip to these two Spanish shows (Gijon and Madrid), was for K Club Lady's final preparation before the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. Madrid served its purpose well and the mare jumped clear in the jump off on Friday but as it was just a build up to the Grand Prix I decided not to jump off. In the Grand Prix itself she jumped two super clears, placing fifth, and that will be her final competition until the opening day of WEG in just under three weeks time.

Yesterday Robert Splaine announced that the horses and riders that will make up the show jumping team in Kentucky will be the same as those who were victorious in the Nations' Cup in Aachen in July.

So the WEG team is Dermott Lennon with Hallmark Elite; Billy Twomey with Tinka's Serenade; myself with K Club Lady, and Denis Lynch with Lantinus.

It's quite a strong team, it is in fact the strongest team available to Ireland at this minute in time, and while all of you know I am always optimistic I think we do have reason to be quietly confident. Four team players with four classy horses who are all pulling together and I must say creating an atmosphere that is so pleasant to work in, something that was lacking in the past within many teams.

Obviously with the championships being in Kentucky the logistics are immense and arriving there in one piece and passing the vet check will nearly deserve a medal in itself. From here on in the horses will be kept ticking over lightly to keep up their fitness levels and it's everybody's hope and wish that we've no setbacks to any of the team horses and riders between now and then - say a prayer!

I head to Cavan this week where myself and Mark Kinsella and some of my students will compete. My main hope for the week will be Ballymore Eustace in the 6/7 year old championship on Saturday night. If any of you are at a loose end, come to Cavan and cheer us on. Check back next week for more news.

Best wishes,

Gijon - An Unforgettable Week

  • Splendor in actionjumped a clear in the second round of the Spanish Nations' Cup

Hi Everyone

Apologies for not blogging sooner but I haven't had a spare moment since returning home from Gijon on Monday and flying back out to Madrid today! The idea of doing these two Spanish shows, as I've said before, is to give K Club Lady the best possible build-up to the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

Last week in Gijon the mare jumped superbly. It's a fantastic show with a superb arena and the colour and the the details in the fences is something special to see, and unique to this great event.

Avelino Rodriguez was the course designer there and he also built the course at the World Equestrian Games in Jerez. He puts great thought into every fence and the material used and is very fond of using water trays frequently in the fences, more than once on the course.

K Club Lady wasn't put off by all the decorations and placed 6th both in the Grand Prix Qualifier and in the Grand Prix itself. Splendor stepped up the mark superbly in the Nations' Cup, jumping a clear in the second round to help the team finish 5th.

On a personal note it was an extremely special week for myself and Ruth as we got engaged.

We've been together now just a year and she was taken totally by surprise when I produced the ring during dinner at a restaurant in Gijon! Thankfully she said yes and we're both really happy together.

We've no definite dates set as such but we'd be aiming to get married sometime next year. And thanks to everyone who has got in touch to send their congratulations. It is much appreciated by us both.

I start competing in Madrid tomorrow with K Club Lady and Sebo and also have brought Noctambule Courcelle, my Dublin Puissicance winner, to have a go at the Puissance here on Friday night - fingers crossed!

Check back after the weekend for more news.

Best wishes,

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