Florida Grand Prix win for Ireland’s Cian O’Connor and Careca LS Elite 

  • 15 February 2021, 10:04

Despite being first to go in the jump-off, Ireland’s Cian O’Connor and the 10-year-old gelding Careca LS Elite, owned by Ronnoco Jump Ltd, stormed to victory in Sunday’s $50,000 Restylane two-star Grand Prix at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Florida, USA.

Seven of the 44 starters made it through to the second round and O’Connor led from start to finish with his clear in 45.65 seconds proving unbeatable.

Cian O’Connor and Careca LS Elite (Photo: Sportfot)

“He’s a very intelligent horse with a wonderful canter,” said O’Connor. “He has a super technique in front so you can really put him close to the jumps, and he has a great way of jumping. When he’s fresh he’s a little bit keen so he needs plenty of jumping, plenty of classes, and you can really feel there today in the jump-off he was really easy to ride. He can turn back short and he’s catty at the jumps, so it really makes my job easy to go fast on him.”

The last combination to go in the jump-off, Rachel Cornacchia (CAN) and Valkyrie De Talma came closest to catching O’Connor –  finishing two-hundredths of a second off the mark in 45.67, while Jennifer Waxman (USA) and Mecho Van’t Kiezelhof finished third in 46.07.

O’Connor has had ‘Careca’ for the past year, speaking highly of his talent, noting that he is pleased with the gelding’s development thus far.

“I saw him last year through a friend of mine Enda Carroll at Ashford Farm,” said O’Connor. “We bought the horse and brought him on with some national grand prix classes in Ireland where he did well. There haven’t been many shows because of the pandemic so it’s really about building him up and using these classes to get used to him. He’s been very good in all the national classes he’s jumped so I decided to put him up to the CSI2* this week, and he coped really well.”


Cian O’Connor (IRL) and Careca LS Elite with Alisa Lask, Vice President and General Manager, Galderma Aeshetics, in the winning presentation for the $50,000 Restylane Grand Prix CSI2* (Photo: Sportfot)

The Olympic individual bronze medalist who has represented Ireland in 15 international championships has a string of up-and-coming horses at WEF this season with a very specific goal in mind for the 2021 season.

“We look at the season with an overall goal and try to work backwards from that target,” he said. “There’s obviously a lot of uncertainty with the Olympic Games but that’s still the main focus to work towards. We’re working backwards from there in terms of classes and how we produce the horses. My main horse PSG Final is the one I’ll be aiming at that. He’s picked up a little injury at the moment, so he’ll be out of action for about a month. I’m building up Cadiz and Kilkenny so I have ‘Plan B’ and ‘Plan C’ in place.”

O’Connor will continue to campaign for the duration of WEF while also training students at the elite level, including Nicole Walker who represents Canada and up-and-coming Irish riders Max and Tom Wachman, who have already had success in the early stages of circuit.


Final Results: $50,000 Restylane Grand Prix CSI2* – WEF Florida USA 14/02/2021

1. CARECA LS ELITE: 2011 SLS gelding by Carusso LS La Silla x Rebeca LS
CIAN O’CONNOR (IRL), Ronnoco Jump Ltd: 0/0/45.65

2. VALKYRIE DE TALMA: 2009 Selle Français mare by Diamant De Semilly x Reggae De Talma
RACHEL CORNACCHIA (CAN), Eventyre Farms: 0/0/45.67

3. MECHO VAN’T KIEZELHOF: 2012 BWP stallion by Cicero Z x Belle Van’t Kiezelhof
JENNIFER WAXMAN (USA), Triple S Group: 0/0/46.07