Austin O’Connor replaces Cathal Daniels as Irish Eventing team get Olympic campaign underway

  • 29 July 2021, 15:44

The Irish Eventing team were dealt a blow today less than 24 hours before the start of the Olympic Eventing competition in Tokyo, with news that Galway’s Cathal Daniels has been forced to withdraw his mare Rioghan Rua (ISH) from the opening Dressage competition for veterinary reasons.

Daniels will be replaced by Austin O’Connor who travelled to Tokyo as Reserve/P Alternate. The Irish team will not incur a penalty for the substitution as it is taking place before the competition is underway. Cork native O’Connor will ride the 11-year-old grey gelding Colorado Blue whom he owns along with the Salty Syndicate. Cathal Daniels and Rioghan Rua now revert to being the Reserve/P Alternate combination and can be called upon if required later in the competition – only of course if the veterinary report improves.

Austin O’Connor and Colorado Blue pictured during the Eventing horse inspection at the Equestrian Park during the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. Photo by Pierre Costabadie/Sportsfile

Speaking from Tokyo, Irish Eventing team manager Sally Corscadden said:

“Obviously this is really tough for Cathal and for Rioghan Rua’s owner and breeder Margaret Kinsella, particularly with it happening so close to the start of the competition. We did everything we could and gave the mare every chance to be ready but unfortunately we were forced to make a decision and of course horse welfare is always paramount for everyone. Austin now steps in and he is ready to go. We are very lucky to have someone of Austin’s calibre to step in, he is in great form, we still have a very strong team and are looking forward to the start of competition.”


Irish Eventing team manager Team manager Sally Corscadden Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

The draw has been made for the opening Dressage phase of the Eventing competition in Tokyo with Carlow’s Sam Watson and the Vahe Bogossian-owned Tullabeg Flamenco (ISH), the first Irish combination to enter the arena at 1:46am Irish time tonight/Friday morning.

Austin O’Connor and Colorado Blue will perform their Dressage test at 11:14am Irish time on Friday, while the final Irish team member, Meath’s Sarah Ennis with the Breda Kennedy-owned Horseware Woodcourt Garrison (ISH), will start their test at 2:32am Irish time on Saturday morning.

The Cross Country phase of the Olympic Eventing competition starts at 11.45pm on Saturday night and will be shown live as part of RTE’s Olympic TV coverage. The final Show Jumping phase of the Eventing competition starts at 9am Irish time on Bank Holiday Monday morning with the Eventing team and individual medals set to be decided around lunchtime the same day.


The Dressage phase of the Olympic Eventing competition can be watched live on the Eurosport Player/Discovery+ (subscription required)
Irish action from Cross Country Phase and final jumping phase will be shown on RTE TV and the entire Cross Country and Jumping phases will also be shown on the Eurosport Player/Discovery+
Some competitions may also be shown on BBC TV and BBC Red Button