Cian O’Connor breaks American hearts again in Florida with stunning Grand Prix victory

  • 19 February 2017, 22:53

For the second time in less than 48 hours, Ireland’s Cian O’Connor and Seringat broke American hearts on their home soil, after they claimed a stunning jump-off win in Sunday night’s $100,000 City of Ocala four-star Grand Prix – adding to another win for Ireland in the Florida Nations Cup on Friday.

Cian O'Connor and Seringat juped four clear rounds at Ocala to win both the Grand Prix and Nations Cup (Photo: ESI Photography)

Cian O’Connor and Seringat jumped four clear rounds at Ocala to win both the Grand Prix and Nations Cup (Photo: ESI Photography)

An incredibly tough first round course saw just three of the 39 starters managing to jump clear, with O’Connor eventually joined in a three-way jump-off by two American riders, Ali Wolff and Beezie Madden.

First to go against the clock, Madden set a tough target when she went clear in 41.43 seconds with Breitling LS, while second to go, Wolff and Casall also went clear in a slightly slower time of 41.86.

Madden and her American team members had watched on two day’s earlier as O’Connor and Seringat completed a double clear round to deny them a home Nations Cup win.

In a copybook repeat performance when last to go, O’Connor and the 11-year-old gelding once again went clear and crucially knocked two-tenths of a second off Madden’s time to give Ireland another superb win.
Speaking afterwards, a delighted O’Connor said:
“I don’t remember the last time I jumped double clear in the Nations Cup and won the Grand Prix so she [Brazil’s Marina Azevedo], is now my new favourite course builder. We bought this horse {Seringat] in November and he hadn’t that much experience. He jumped 1m45 outdoors and he jumped a couple of bigger indoor classes. He is very brave, super careful and has a big jump. He was a bit hard to manoeuvre between the fences. He was good at a World Cup a few weeks ago and I put a lot of time into him before we came here to Ocala.

“The big ring suited him here, impressive jumps and the turns helped me in the first round as it didn’t let him get strong and the jump-off couldn’t have been nicer. It has been an incredible weekend and i’m so happy to cap it off with the Grand Prix win. Seringat has really improved over the last few months and will be a real Grand Prix horse for the future,” O’Connor concluded.

Meath-based O’Connor, who this week chalked up his 111th Nations Cup appearance for his country, walked away with a winners prize of $33,000. Cork’s Shane Sweetnam also took a share of the prize fund, as he finished sixth aboard Chaqui Z with the fastest four fault score from the first round.

There was another Irish win in Wellington, Florida earlier in the day, when Derry’s Daniel Coyle claimed the Under 25 Grand Prix with the Sue & Ariel Grange-owned Simba De La Roque. They were one of 15 combinations who made it into the jump-off where a blistering clear round in a time of 36.28 seconds saw them take the winners prize.
Just four combinations managed to jump clear in the second round, with Coyle finishing a massive seven seconds ahead of runner-up Hayley Barnhill.

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