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Cian Cuts Through The Opposition at Sopot’s Five-Star Show

In a great Grand Prix comeback after six weeks recovering from a groin injury, Cian destroyed the opposition at the five-star show in Sopot Poland today.
Having incurred a serious groin strain at a three-star show in Eschweiler in Germany in April, he has been gradually increasing his efforts, with a fourth place in the Wiesbaden Grand Prix under a week ago, and a clear jumping round in the Polish Nations Cup on Friday.
It was today, however, that Cian showed a return to his top form, with two clear rounds from the performance of his top horse Good Luck earning him 50,000 euro for a first place.

The tough Sopot Grand Prix course produced only three first-round clears from a starting field of 50, and it was the 11 year-old Good Luck, jumping 41st in order, who delivered one of them.

Cian said afterwards: “I’m thrilled with today’s Grand Prix win. Good Luck deserves this big day and hopefully we will have many more to come. He’s an extraordinary athlete and every day I ride him I realise how lucky I am.”

A total of 13 riders went through to the second round, including the three zero-scoring riders O’Connor, Portugal’s Luciana Diniz and Marc Houtzager from the Netherlands.

Second last to jump, Diniz with her Olympic horse Fit for Fun laid down a fast speed of 48.77, which she seemed confident would not be challenged. Cian and Good Luck, though, managed to shave 1.18 seconds off that figure and romped home to thunderous applause.

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Cian Delivered a Convincing Fourth Place in the Wiesbaden Grand Prix

Cian delivered a convincing fourth place in the Wiesbaden Grand Prix today, his first major competition after a six-week injury lay-off.

With Good Luck Cian delivered a foot perfect first round and was one of nine combinations to make the cut, and showed no signs of strain following his groin injury incurred at the three-star show in Eschweiler, Germany in April.

Third to go in the jump-off, Cian was able to watch his pupil Lillie Keenan shave a third of a second off his own time to snatch third place, leaving Cian in fourth overall.
“I am delighted with how the horses went,” said Cian this evening. “Good Luck jumped outstandingly today in a competitive Grand Prix. It was a great weekend too for my student Lillie Keenan who won a ranking class, was runner up in three classes and third in the Grand Prix!”

“Obviously getting injured was a set back for me but I set myself targets to work towards and the aim was to be back in the saddle this week. Much thanks must go to all my team around me and of course (wife) Ruth for their support,” Cian said.

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Cian to Miss Opening of Nations Cup season

Cian will miss the opening Nations Cup shows of the current season due to a groin injury that will put him out of action for six weeks.

The injury, which developed at the three-star show in Eschweiler, Germany last week, has been diagnosed as a torn ligament.

Cian said this morning: “At my last show in Eschweiler I sustained a groin injury.

“I’d like to thank Helena Stormanns, show organiser, and the Allen family for their help both at the show and in pointing me in the right direction on the road to recovery.
“I was really looking forward to being part of the Irish teams at La Baule and Rome and indeed my GCL team Miami Glory in Madrid, but unfortunately under doctor’s advice it is best I miss these outings. I’ll now focus my efforts on getting my injury healed first and foremost, as well as coaching my students.
It’s far from ideal but it could always be worse!”

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Cian & Good Luck take third place and $120,000 in California

Cian and Good Luck travelled all the way to California this weekend, but returned home with a third place pay cheque for $120,000 after jumping double clear in the AIG $1 Million Grand Prix.

Cian faced a 55-strong field at the desert showgrounds at HITS Coachella, and was one of just six to make it through to the jump-off after his clear first round.
Drawn just third to jump, he had to wait for almost two hours to find out who he would be up against, and then brought “Luke” out as first to go in the jump-off.

A careful round stopped the clock at 43.986 seconds with zero faults, and though three of the riders following left a pole on the ground, it was the USA’s Mandy Porter who set the fastest time of 41.600 seconds on zero penalties to snatch the first prize of $350,000.

Second place tonight went to Canada’s Tamie Phillips and Cristar, who earned $200,000.

Cian said afterwards: “Good Luck is keeping up his consistent clear rounds, delivering two class rounds today. Going first to go I was perhaps too cautious and could have taken more chances but I’m pleased with the result, and of course the big cheque!

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ShowJumpers Awards Ball

I’m delighted to have won the International Showjumper of the Year award which was presented at the Showjumpers Awards Ball tonight in Kildare.  

I feel so fortunate to have a top class team of people behind me and great horses and owners without whom my successes would not be possible. 

Unfortunately as I’m jumping in Geneva this weekend I could not attend tonight’s awards.

 

Below is my summary of key results during 2016 which I think helped to clinch the award: 

• Two top placings in 5 star Grands Prix in Wellington, 5th and 8th with Good Luck 

• Double clear on winning Irish team Wellington with Sam du Challois 

• 2nd in the one million dollar Grand Prix Ocala with Good Luck 

• Member of winning team St Gallen with Good Luck 

• Double clear 7th St. Gallen Grand Prix with Good Luck 

• Double clear 6th Knokke Belgium 5 star Grand Prix Good Luck 

• Winner of two international classes at the prestigious Aachen show with Be Gentle 

• Won opening international class at RDS with Aramis 

• Double clear on the Aga Khan with Good Luck – team finished second 

• 4th Dublin Grand Prix with Good Luck 

• Winner of a feature jump off class 5 star Spruce Meadows Calgary with Callisto 

• Winner of Grand Prix Horse of the Year Show Birmingham with Super Sox 

• Winner of International class at Doha Global Tour Final with Callisto 

• 3rd in the Stuttgart World Cup with Good Luck 

• Member of 110 senior teams to date.

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Great week for Karlswood students

Sometimes its harder to watch from the ground than be actually competing yourself. 

 Last weekend’s thrilling Furusiyya Nation’s Cup Final was a great competition and went down to the wire with Germany’s Marcus Ehning beating Big Star and Nick Skelton in a jump off. It was fitting for Ludger Beerbaum’s last team performance that they would win and for good measure he produced a double clear. 

 My involvement there was coaching American young rider Lillie Keenan. She was called up to jump in the second round at what’s arguably one of the biggest Nation’s Cup competitions there is and she did it in style. 

Lillie and her partner Super Sox have a great partnership and they skipped around like it was easy for them to post a clear round and help Team USA to a third place podium finish. I was thrilled for Lillie and her family but particularly her mum Pam who loves the sport more than anyone I know and I could see on her face that this one evening was somehow a reward that her belief in her own daughter and indeed her own work and effort put in over the years was all well worth it and justified. 

We all need a break and American Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland is always trying to develop new talent. I’m a great believer in that you make your own luck and more important than getting the opportunity is to be ready in case it comes your way and when it does to grab it with open arms and realise that today is the day. 

Lillie did that extremely well and she delivered when it counted, which in my book is what winners do and this should be the basis of greater things to come hopefully. 

The following day Nikki Walker, whom I’ve been coaching for the last four years, was competing in the $86k Caledon Grand Prix in Canada. Nikki is from Aurora outside Toronto and has progressed through the hunters and equitation to small show jumping classes and now this year has won two major international Grands Prix with Deko de Landetta Z. 

I was in Angelstone show outside Toronto helping Nikki a few weeks back and as she is based at home this time of year we discuss all the plans for the horses, their work and show schedules and I study all her videos. 

I have two of my Karlswood staff with her full-time and they assist Nikki to keep all in our programme and structure. I’ve always maintained that we want to coach people to become professionals as opposed to keeping them amateurs. By Nikki doing some shows on her own and reviewing them after with me it has allowed her to develop as a horsewoman and make decisions about warm up, distances, turns, time allowed etc. She rode the quickest jump off I have ever seen her ride last week to claim victory in a competitive international field. I wouldn’t have liked to try to catch her! 

It’s amazing listening to both girls following there super performances. The enthusiasm, confidence and outlook all got a boost. Let nobody try to tell you that taking part is what it’s all about. We all have to start somewhere and winning is not instant but I for one won’t celebrate mediocrity- winning is not important – it’s everything!!! 

You can watch Lillie in action here and Nikki Walker here

I’m writing this to you on my flight from Dublin to Los Angeles, where I compete this weekend. You can follow my competitions on my Facebook link here

Chat soon, 

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Horseware Video – Making a Champion

In Horseware’s latest instalment of #makingachampion, we go behind the scenes with 2012 London Olympics Bronze Medallist Cian O’Connor. Have a look into his world class equestrian program to see what it takes to get to the top level of the sport, and how Horseware has been a part of that journey….

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Ready for home!

Hey Everyone, 

 
 We have just completed the 12 week Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida. 
 
Team Karlswood had a total of 25 horses and 13 staff in our group for the duration. The pace is fast here, with classes on in multiple arenas at the same time. Organisation is key and I’d like to thank all my staff and background team who made sure everything ran so well. 
 
As a group myself and my three students have had an incredible circuit, which I believe is largely due to the extraordinary group of people who make it happen behind the scenes. Michael Kelly and Ross Mulholland are, apart from being two of my closest friends, a major contributing factor towards any success we have. They both help me coach the students, flat the horses and compete and do all to a top standard which I firmly believe sets Karlswood apart from other coaching yards. 
 
It’s a long time to be away from home and it really is a different world out here – not necessarily America of course but just this equestrian world of Wellington. It’s fairytale stuff- like Disney World for horses! We try to stay somewhat grounded and focus on our goals and targets. I always wanted to use the circuit to build up the horses and riders so they are ready after this to compete, and the hundreds of rounds we have all done should have us in the groove when we all return to Europe. 
 
I’m proud of the accomplishments of my students. Nikki Walker had two younger horses to develop and she produced them both to a higher level successfully as well as winning the $25k classic in Ocala last week with Deko
 
Emily Short used the circuit to get used to some of her new horses as well as move up to the bigger level with Coco, which they did extremely well – fourth in a young rider Grand Prix, second in a ranking class in Ocala and second in a $130k Grand Prix in Wellington. 
 
Lillie Keenan also developed her younger horses and formed a successful new partnership with a new ride, Be Gentle. Super Sox, whom I competed in Olympia just before coming to Florida has really developed over the past number of months and catapulted Lillie into the big league, where she will hopefully have the opportunity to be considered to be a part of a senior American team later this summer. Sox and Lillie were double clear and placed third in a five star Grand Prix at Wellington and had the same result in the $1million Great American Grand Prix in Ocala last weekend. 
 
All my horses improved throughout the circuit. I think our plan of not overusing them worked well, so that they are fit to jump when we get home as opposed to needing a long break due to over jumping them over the winter. My new horses Calisto, Crespo and Sam Du Challois all proved themselves with solid performances. Calisto was second in a 1.50m and seventh in the World Cup in Live Oak. Crespo stepped up to jump a few Grand Prix classes well and had a number of good placings in the ranking classes throughout the circuit, as well as winning a 1.45m class. Sam du Challois has proven a great find. One of the highlights for me of the circuit was being last to go in the Nations’ Cup in Wellington and jumping clear with Sam to help the team secure victory, and also making it my 105th appearance on the senior team. 
 
Saphir had multiple placings in ranking classes and stepped up to 1.50m level well, producing a great clear in the Suncast final. 
 
Good Luck has been sensational. He was always an amazing jumper long before he came to me but the biggest change has come in his rideability. He is much straighter to the fences, a lot easier to collect, and jumping a 1.60 m course feels like 1.30m on another horse – it’s all so easy for him. We did three major Grands Prix and were clear in all of them finishing eighth, fourth and the biggest result came last weekend when we were double clear in the Great American Million Dollar Grand Prix to finish second. 
 
It was a great course built by Ireland’s Alan Wade, who is one of the most popular course designers in North America. He got the right result with only three double clears, which meant a podium finish for those who made no fault over the two testing rounds. We will all take a few easy weeks before our European tour kicks off at the end of April. 
 
Check out the great video that Noelle Floyd made: A Day In The Life
 
 Chat soon, 
 
 
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From Doha to Lier, with Rio in mind

Hey Guys,

I’m writing to you on my flight from Doha to Brussels. The Global Tour final marked the end of the outdoor season for most of us. A fabulous venue and a wonderful show in every way. The Global Tour has really raised the profile of the sport on a global level and offers a wonderful spectacle and package for the sponsors involved to enjoy. I must say it’s been 7 weeks since I jumped a show of that level which was in Barcelona and unwittingly am at a disadvantage to those doing it more frequently. It’s all about horses and my current plan is to keep building my team of horses so I can get into the top 30 in the Longines World Rankings by next summer which will allow me automatic access to the Global Tour shows.

Good Luck has learned a lot in our first year together and now he will get a nice two month break in Florida ahead of next season. We have developed a good partnership together and I feel that next season a lot of the greenness will have been ironed out and he will really hit the ground running! It’s important to aim him at the biggest courses with the biggest prize money as there is no track he can’t jump. The final of the Global Champion’s Tour was not ideal in that the time allowed was so short, it forced me to gallop very early on which meant the horse was open and long, and then when I ran deep to the third last the horse was out the front door! I have always felt that top level should be a jumping test with a neat time allowed but in fact it was not as big as I would have hoped and nowhere on the course had you time to add a stride or regroup. I won’t over jump him in Florida next year as the focus is solely on getting him to Rio.

Before the year ends it looks like we will have our hearing with the Court of Arbitration for Sport in relation the to the Aachen incident. I’m extremely confident that we will win that case with the end result being Horse Sport Ireland being awarded a team place for Ireland at the Rio Olympics.

Next weekend I jump at the 2 star show in Lier, Belgium where I take Saphir, Under Fire and Sam du Challois.

Follow me on Facebook for updates.

Best Wishes,

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Aga Khan win is the perfect prep!

Hey Everyone,

 

Dublin Horse Show is a highlight for most competitors but for the Irish it’s much more than that. The team of Bertram, Greg, myself and Darragh performed even better than we looked on paper. The Dublin leg marked my 100th cap on the Irish team so to win it was very special! In those 100 caps we’ve had some good performances and some not so good – all for various reasons! But prior to the Nations Cup in Dublin there was a confidence that we could win. When you have a likeminded group of guys all wanting the same goal and working solely towards winning the Nations Cup it makes a huge difference. Enthusiasm from all creates team spirit, and a willingness to help each other, backed by a manager who believes in each of us, culminates in what I believe is the beginning of a winning formula.

We all travel to Aachen next week with Denis Lynch also in the squad with All Star who was 7th at the world games last year individually and also has decent current form this season too. Any Team of 4 riders needs a strong squad and we probably have 6 or 7 decent combinations all capable of doing a good job. This strength is very promising for the future success of the team.

Winning is a habit which is good to practise and like a good football team when you win then you expect to win – you get on a roll. Olympic qualification is the most important task next week in Aachen where we have to finish in the top 3 of the non-qualified teams but ultimately if we aim to win a medal then we can kill two birds with the one stone!

The arena in Dublin is very similar to Aachen so both for the horses and the riders it should act as the perfect prep!

Follow the updates on Team Ireland Facebook and indeed my own page.

Chat soon,