Cian O'Connor
Olympic Bronze Medallist

News: May, 2011

Rome Proved A Worthwhile Trip

Cian took four horses with him to the CSIO in Rome, and was travelling there as fifth man for the team, following the recent sale of Larkhill Cruiser.

He was ready with Splendor to step in for the team should he be required but luckily the team of Shane Sweetnam, Billy Twomey, Shane Carey and Cameron Hanley were all fit and well and performed superbly to finish third in the Nations Cup, leaving Ireland top of the leaderboard in the superleague.

Splendor performed well in the two major classes he jumped in, jumping double clear and placing fifth in both of them. On Ira, the 9 yr old French bred stallion (pictured right), was a revelation in his first Puissance competition, and cleared 2m20 and unfortunately just touched off 2m25 to finish second.

Temple Road, who Cian was second with in his first Grand Prix the weekend before at Pzorzheim continued his good run of form and was double clear in the 1m50 on the opening day to finish 4th and in his first five star Grand Prix had just two fences down. Cian said at the show: “I was extremely happy with Temple Road this weekend, the Grand Prix in Rome is as big as it gets and although he made a few green mistakes today I have no doubt he will be a lot better for the experience. I will be aiming him at the Global Champions’ Tour in Monte Carlo next month.”

Temple Road Scores Second Place In German Grand Prix

Cian produced a surprise result at Pforzheim in Germany this afternoon when finishing second in the Grand Prix on his first international outing with the nine year-old gelding Temple Road.

Cian is joint owner of the gelding with McNamee Bakeries, but for the last 18 months it had been produced on his behalf by fellow Irish rider Shane Carey.

Cian has now taken over the ride, following the sale of his gelding Larkhill Cruiser, and was this afternoon delighted with his 2nd place finish. "It's our first outing today, and I think this is definitely a horse for the future, based on that result," he said.

Watch Temple Road at Pforzheim here.

Victory At La Baule!

The Irish team of Cian with Larkhill Cruiser, Billy Twomey and Romanov II, Cameron Hanley and Southwind VDL and Shane Sweetnam on Amaretto Darco celebrated victory today with the first win of the 2011 FEI Nations' Cup Superleague at La Baule, France.

Under Chef d'Equipe Robert Splaine, the team lay joint second at the halfway point, but a great clear from Larkhill Cruiser in the second round helped Ireland jump to first place, along with four fault rounds from Billy Twomey and Shane Sweetnam.

Cian said afterwards: "This was a real test for Joey, as it was his first Nations' Cup and his first experience at this level. We had one fence down the first time out, but he produced a really class second round and left all the poles standing. I'm really proud of him and I'm glad we were able to produce the goods when they were needed.

"Everybody played their part today, and everyone's scores counted - I'm lucky to be part of the team, which has such talented riders and real team players. The team spirit and atmosphere amongst the riders was second to none which I've no doubt was a major factor in the success."

Splaine Names Squad For La Baule

THE FIRST leg of top level competition in the FEI Nations’ Cup Series kicks off at La Baule, France, on Friday (May 13). This year’s date, just two weeks after the World Cup Final in Leipzig, should ensure the participation of the world’s best horses, as both riders and their mounts will already be on the European continent. Two hundred thousand euro in prize money will be on offer for Friday’s Nations’ Cup, the first of the prestigious eight-stage circuit.

Team Ireland Equestrian Show Jumping Manager, Robert Splaine, has selected a squad of five Irish riders to compete at La Baule with four of these riders being selected to jump on the team on Friday May 13. They are Shane Carey (Lancero), Cameron Hanley (Southwind VDL), Cian O’Connor (Splendor), Shane Sweetnam (Amaretto Darco) and Billy Twomey (Je t’Aime Flamenco or Romanov).

For 2011, the FEI Nations’ Cup has returned to its original format of eight participating teams competing over two rounds.

Last year the Irish team finished sixth in La Baule and went on the finish fourth in the Superleague, thus retaining the team’s status in the elite series. To avoid relegation Ireland will need to finish in the top six of the eight teams in the Series.

Action kicks off at the French venue at 15.35pm (GMT) on May 13 and can be watched live on the subscription channel FEI TV. Regular updates will be available on Horse Sport Ireland’s website and the Team Ireland Equestrian Facebook page.

Team Ireland Equestrian Show Jumping Manager, Robert Splaine, said: “This will be a very challenging league for us as the main aim for the year will be the European Championships in Madrid, where Olympic qualification will be at stake.

“My main goal will be preparing combinations for these championships and giving potential combinations every opportunity to prepare and also using the Superleague Nations’ Cups as a testing ground for other combinations who have championship ambition. Superleague is the closest level to a Championship.

“La Baule itself will be very competitive but we have five very experienced riders and I am hopeful of good result to get us off to a solid start,” he said.

“Shane Carey and Lancero have been progressing well during last season and over the winter and they continued with that progress in the Nations’ Cup in Lummen last week.

“Cameron Hanley’s horse, Southwind VDL, has shown tremendous potential but unfortunately didn’t get to compete as much as we would have liked last year. He has returned to action this year and has already had some solid results.

“Cian O’Connor is a rock solid Nations’ Cup rider and has produced good results with Splendor during the winter and this spring, “ he continued.

“Shane Sweetnam and Amaretto Darco have lined out for Ireland in Nations’ Cups on previous occasions. Shane, who is based in America, returns to European shows yet again this year.

“Billy Twomey has had a spectacular year and he has built up a good team of horses. Je t’Aime Flamenco has been a very successful Nations’ Cup and Grand Prix horse and has contributed to Billy’s rise up the world ranking list, while his new ride Romanov has had some very encouraging results recently.”

All About Getting The Right Mix

Read The Irish Examiner feature on Cian, where he says that says the best Irish horses are better than the best of our foreign-bred rivals.

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