Cian O’Connor adds European individual bronze to team gold medal to end remarkable week for Ireland in Gothenburg
- 27 August 2017, 18:30
Cian O’Connor has become just the third Irish rider in history to win a European Championship individual medal, after he claimed bronze with a stunning performance at the Longines FEI European Championships which drew to a close today [Sunday] in Gothenburg.
(L-R) Netherlands Harrie Smolders (silver) Sweden’s Peder Fredricson (gold) and Ireland’s Cian O’Connor (bronze) stand on the podium at the Longines FEI European Championships in Gothenburg (SWE)
After five intense rounds of jumping which began last Wednesday, O’Connor and the 11-year-old stallion Good Luck, who is owned by Adena Springs & Ronnoco Jump, finished on just 6.25 penalties to take third place on the podium, adding to the team gold medal they won just 48 hours earlier at the Ullevi Stadium.
Speaking afterwards, a delighted Cian O’Connor was keen to pay tribute to his horse and thank his support team,
“I’m over the moon, it’s been an excellent week to win team gold and to finish with three riders in the top 10 individually. As our assistant manager Michael Blake said, the famine is over. It could have been even better, the lightest of rubs cost us gold but that’s the sport with small margins at this top level.
“Good Luck has been incredible. He has learned now to go fast against the clock which he showed on the opening day. I am very lucky to have a huge support team around me at Karlswood and I want to thank them all for their effort and support. In particular I want to thank Good Luck’s groom Alan O’Brien, along with Ross Mullholland and Michael Kelly who do so much work behind the scenes riding our horses and with our training.”
London Olympic bronze medal winner O’Connor, joins an elite group of Irish European Championship individual medal winners which includes Peter Charles who won gold at St Gallen, Switzerland in 1995 riding La Ina, and Eddie Macken who won the silver medal in Austria in 1977 riding Kerrygold.
An incredible result for Ireland saw Cork’s Shane Sweetnam and Chaqui Z finish eighth overall and Tipperary’s Denis Lynch with All Star in 10th. Sweden’s Peder Fredricson took the gold in front of his home fans with H&M All In on a score of 5.0 penalties, while The Netherlands Harrie Smolders claimed silver with Don VHP Z on 5.52 penalties.
After an incredible result at his first championships as Irish team manager, Rodrigo Pessoa was already looking forward to the next challenge,
“We are very happy. Championships are always really tight. For Cian to win a bronze medal and three riders in the top 10 along with our team gold is fantastic. Our next event will be the Nations Cup world final in Barcelona. We will digest this now and see how these horses come out of this Championships first before picking a team [for Barcelona]. We then have to sit down and make a plan for next years World Equestrian Games, save these combinations and try to also create new ones for next year.”
The new European Show Jumping champions Ireland stand on the podium after claiming the gold medal in Gothenburg, Sweden on Friday (l-r) Rodrigo Pessoa, Shane Sweetnam, Denis Lynch, Bertram Allen and Cian O’Connor (Photo: Sonya Hennessy)
Rodrigo Pessoa’s Irish team of Shane Sweetnam, Bertram Allen, Denis Lynch and Cian O’Connor, sponsored by Devenish and The Underwriting Exchange were crowned European Champions in Gothenburg on Friday night, 16 years after Ireland last claimed the title. The Irish Show Jumping team is also sponsored by Equiline.
Horse Sport Ireland interim Chairman Jim Beecher added:
“Cian’s bronze medal win rounds off an incredible week for Irish Show Jumping. To win team gold, individual bronze and to finish with three riders in the top 10 at a major Championships is a historic result. I want to congratulate Cian, Shane, Denis and Bertram on their results. A special mention also for our team manager Rodrigo Pessoa and the Horse Sport Ireland High Performance Committee and all those working behind the scenes to make this happen.”
Ireland’s winning run continues in Gothenburg as Richard Howley claims Under 25 title with Jenny Rankin in fifth
Ireland’s incredible performances at the Ullevi Stadium in Gothenburg continued on Sunday morning, as Sligo’s Richard Howley won the Lövsta Future Challenge International Under 25 competition. One of eight riders to make it into the jump-off, Howley partnered Chinook to the winning clear against the clock in 45.89 seconds to take the winners prize of over €6,000.
Howley was joined in Gothenburg’s Under 25 classes by Tyrone’s Jenny Rankin who finished fifth in Sunday’s class with Benny’s Legacy and also finished in the prizes in Gothenburg on Thursday. The Irish duo in Gothenburg were under the guidance of Irish development team manager Michael Blake.