Cian O’Connor jumps into world top 20

The latest Longines FEI world rankings saw Irish riders on the move following the European Show Jumping Championship success last month.

Cian O’Connor has moved up to 19th in the world, a jump of six places, ending Bertram Allen’s two-year reign as the highest-ranked Irish rider. Allen retains his top 20 status, one place behind O’Connor in 20th.

Denis Lynch is back inside the top 30 with a climb of eight places to 27th, and Shane Sweetnam also rises eight places from 43rd to 35th.

Daniel Cole drops a few notches to 41st, while Darragh Kenny stays steady in 43rd position. Just outside the top 50 is Conor Swail who climbs six places to 54th.

Not far behind is Shane Breen, who had a good Dublin Horse Show and jumped double-clear in the Nations Cup at Gijon two weeks ago with Ipswich van de Wolfsakker where Ireland’s guesting team under Taylor Vard took 3rd place. Breen soars from 110th to 58th in the standings.

Billy Twomey (76th) and Richie Moloney (81st) complete the Irish riders in the top 100.

American Kent Farrington retains his position as the top-ranked rider, but his compatriot McLain Ward has given way to Italy’s Loranzo De Luca for the number two slot.

The rankings, which are updated monthly, reflect the performances of riders regardless of which horses they are riding. There is no ranking for specific rider/horse combinations, but it is interesting to note that Cian O’Connor and Good Luck were the second most potent combination in the world in August behind Sweden’s Peder Fredricson and H&M All In as far as ranking points were concerned. As well as claiming team gold and individual bronze at the European Championships, the Irish pairing left everything standing in the Aga Khan Nations Cup in Dublin and would have claimed a double-clear but for a time fault in the second round.

They were the only Irish interest in Sunday’s CP International Grand Prix at the Spruce Meadows Masters meeting in Calgary, Canada which had a first prize of one million Canadian dollars (almost 700,000 euro). Regarded as one of the toughest events in the world, it featured heights of up to 1m70, four inches higher than most top level contests. O’Connor and Good Luck made the jump-off having had one pole down in the opening round in a very fast time, but the second round course saw their challenge crumble and they retired after 16 more faults to finish in 12th overall. Even that was worth $30,000 in a competition which had a total prize fund of $3million.

Only Germany’s Philipp Weishaupt managed a second clear round to take the huge first prize with LB Convall. “The two rounds here are known as the toughest, but this week I had a really good feeling on Convall,” the victor commented. “Convall jumped it like a gymnast - he has so much talent.”

The event is part of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping which covers four events in a twelve-month cycle. The next round takes place in Geneva in December and the German rider is in line for a bonus of €500,000 if he can win two successive events in the series. Winning any two of the four inside the twelve-month cycle carries a bonus of €250,000.

American-based Paul O’Shea and Skara Glens Machu Picchu finished eighth in the weekend’s other big event, the Saugerties $1 Million Grand Prix in New York, netting $25,000.

It was a quieter time in Europe with no five-star or four-star meetings. Kronenberg in the Netherlands provided the only three-star action and in Sunday’s Grand Prix Richard Howley took third on Electra B, in a contest won by Dutch rider Lisa Nooren on Dienellie. Howley has progressed up the afore-mentioned world rankings this year, particularly since being involved with the Irish senior team, and edged closer to the top 100 in the latest figures, climbing from 127th to 118th.

This week, five-star action returns to Europe at Lausanne in Switzerland, where Bertram Allen is due to compete with Dino W, Izzy By Picobello, and Molly Malone, having her first outing since the Aga Khan in Dublin.

On a domestic note, the National Grand Prix meeting at Maryville Stables, Carrigaline, Co. Cork due to be held on Saturday September 23 has been switched to Sunday September 24 instead.


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