There is a certain balancing act required to do what Cian O’Connor is doing. The Irish 37-year-old juggles a highly successful sports career with coaching some very talented young riders – such as USA’s Lillie Keenan – and running his own business, Karlswood Stables, which includes always looking out for the next possible super star. And all of this together with a family life as a husband to his wife Ruth and a father of two.
“It is funny how one thing leads to another — my business really took off following my bronze medal win at the London Olympics in 2012. It’s incredible how one special horse can make a big difference, and, in this case, Blue Loyd made a huge impact on my future. Eight months before the London Olympics, I put together a syndicate of a couple of close friends, headed up by Charlie O’Reilly Hyland, to purchase Loyd with the Games in mind. Following our success in London, Blue Loyd was sold to Mr. Stronach, an Austrian-Canadian business man. Mr. Stronach asked me to help his granddaughter Nicole Walker,” Cian tells. “I started to travel to Wellington for the winters, and my role developed from being a coach for Nikki to actually running the whole operation she has, including her staff as well as managing all her showjumpers. They have some horses for me to ride as well, Good Luck being one of them. That evolved, and from travelling there I started coaching more clients and that is how I met Lillie as well. So I tend to spend my winters in America coaching Nikki and Lillie.
I RELAND’S Cian O’Connor and the 11-year-old stallion Good Luck produced a stunning performance to win last Sunday’s five-star Grand Prix at the Polish Nations Cup show in Sopot, just a week after O’Connor returned from a six-week layoff with a groin injury.
A tough first round course yielded just four clear rounds from the 50 starters. The top 25% went forward to the jump-off including the four clears, six riders on just a time fault, along with the three fastest four-fault scores from the opening round.
O’Connor and Good Luck ensured they had the plum draw as last to go after they produced the fastest clear of the opening round. Speaking afterwards Cian O’Connor said: “I’m over the moon. The horse is getting a little bit older now and is a lot more consistent. I saw the time was tight in the first round and came inside the vertical to the treble and that really helped.
Cian O’Connor’s Karlswood Stables dominated in the seventh leg of the Gain/Alltech Autumn Grand Prix league taking a one-two-three victory. O’Connor took the outright win with Quick Shine closing the curtain on a wellsupported Portmore Autumn Championships when clinching the victory in the £4,000 feature class sponsored by the Equestrian Store.
O’Connor, double-handed in the jump-off, showed exactly what had to be done on his first outing with Quick Shine and stopped the clock at 41.76 seconds. It was a standard that would hold despite strong opposition offered by Dermott Lennon and Karlswood Stables’ domination was completed when Ross Mulholland and Lillie Keenan supplied the only other double clears on the day.
Cian made it two in a row when he won the Grand Prix in Killossery Lodge last Bank Holiday Monday having also won the previous day in Portmore.
“I’m delighted with the results,” said O’Connor. “The Glynns always make a great effort so I always like to go to the show when I’m home. It was a good track; the fences went up in the second round and with several options for turn backs it made it for an interesting and challenging jump-off.
Irish eyes were smiling at the RDS in Dublin this evening after Robert Splaine’s team of Cian O’Connor, Bertram Allen, Greg Broderick and Darragh Kenny pulled off a spectacular win in the Aga Khan Nations Cup trophy.
The Irish team registered a team total of just four faults with last man in, Darragh Kenny, not needing to jump in the final round after Cian O’Connor – riding in his 100th Nations Cup for Ireland – secured the Aga Khan on his talented Canturo stallion, Good Luck, owned by Adena Springs.</p><p>Twenty year-old Wexford rider Bertram Allen opened for Ireland on the 17 year-old Romanov. The young rider almost pulled off a clear round posting just four faults on the board despite being the first competitor of the eight nations tackling the course in the rain.
The startlist for the $50,000 Live Oak International CSI-W included plenty of ambitious riders, eager to do well in the last North American qualifier for the upcoming Longines FEI World Cup Final. As half a dozen riders jockeyed for the points to secure an invitation to Las Vegas, Cian O’Connor had a much different goal: He just wanted to test out his relatively green mount, Good Luck, on grass. And the stallion outdid himself, rising to the top of the 46-horse class to earn blue for the Irish rider and owner Adena Springs
When I was in Wellington, Florida, during winter 2013, I ran into Cian O’Connor … actually, it was more like I saw him, made a beeline toward him and pounced! I quickly said, “Hi Cian, could you possibly spare a few minutes to share some advice and insights into your riding and training with a novice to the sport?” Without hesitation, he replied, “Sure. Catch up with me after my competition tomorrow afternoon. I’ll be at the International Arena.” I did as told and met up with him the next day. At the end of my interview I asked, “Would you be able to help me with my riding?”
Blue Loyd will long be celebrated but the story starts with Cian’s first International Show – two wins at Millstreet in 1999 – when he was not even twenty years old. A chain of important wins followed on horses that were markedly different. Cian describes Irish Independent Casper as “the most versatile horse I’ve ever ridden”. The gelding cleared seven feet, five inches to win his first Dublin Puissance in 2002 – an event Cian has now won on four occasions to equal the record.
Cian O’Connor was projected to the forefront of the show jumping scene with his magnificent third place in the Olympic Games in London, delighting his home country, Ireland. This victory was the result of over thirty years of work and personal investment. If there was a beginning, it was no doubt the first time he put his foot in the stirrup. Cian’s rigour, tenacity and confidence in his own judgment, and his relationship with his horses, are just some of the qualities that make him the great champion we know him to be.