Artist hopes Lord and lady jump for joy on return for top horse trials

British royal Zara Phillips is to be presented with a stunning drawing of herself and her horse Lord Lauries at Ballindenisk Horse Trials, Co Cork, this weekend.

The graphite study of Queen Elizabeth’s grand-daughter is by Cork-based Kerry native Tony O’Connor, who has received a huge reaction to it on Facebook.

“I don’t normally do portraits, but considering she is so well known and attractive, it was a challenge. It got more than 1,500 likes on my Facebook page. It was a boost to know that one of my first portrait pieces was instantly recognisable,” said Tony, from Moyvane, near Listowel, where his father was a fifth-generation blacksmith.

Ballindenisk event director Peter Fell is a big fan of his work: “I was delighted when he agreed to bring some of his work up to our international horse trials this weekend. He then suggested drawing one of our competitors to mark the occasion and of course Zara Phillips’s win in 2011 on the beautiful Lord Lauries was one of the highlights of the last few years.”

The trials at Ballindenisk, near Watergrasshill, attract the sport’s top exponents and Phillips is among three of Britain’s Olympic silver-medal winning team to cross the Irish Sea this weekend. Fell — who hopes to host the European Championships in 2019 — has pitted them in a nations cup class against a trio of Irish riders from the team that finished fifth in London.

Meanwhile, Tony explained that Phillips is not the only ‘royal’ to own one of his works, as racing blue blood Tracey Piggott commissioned an oil painting of her horse. European Affairs Minister Lucinda Creighton owns another.

“Lucinda fell in love with a piece I had on display at Millstreet Horse Show. To be honest, I didn’t have a clue who she was until my wife pointed her out to me in VIP magazine,” confessed Tony, a graduate of Cork’s Crawford College of Art and Design.

Tony has painted such equine luminaries as Flemenstar and Hurricane Fly as award pieces for the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association. Next up is an exhibition in May in Clonmel. titled Only Foals and Horses.

* For information on the trials go to: www.whitetreestudio.ie and Tony’s work can be seen at:

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