O’Connor: New mount ‘the greatest’

Considering the horse power Cian O’Connor has put through his hands, when he describes a new mount as “the greatest” you take notice.

The Olympic bronze medallist is referring to Cooper, a nine-year-old German-bred gelding he sourced last month.

“I have him two weeks. Most of the time you like to see the horse do the talking, but he is head and shoulders above other horses. I know that’s a strong statement, considering some of the horses I have had, but he is without doubt the greatest horse I have ever sat on. He’s got a great temperament, he’s very intelligent, he’s easy to ride, very quick with his front legs and jumps big fences effortlessly. He is a dream horse. He had jumped up to 1.45m before I got him and I jumped him at 1.50m at the tour in Magna Racino in Austria and he went clear. The real reason for buying him was to help the Irish team qualify for the Rio Olympics at next year’s World Equestrian Games,” said O’Connor.

Cooper is owned by the Serendipity Group.

“It is a mixture of owners I have put together to invest in horses with the hope of producing them, achieving success and realising a return on the owners’ investment,” said the 33-year-old.

O’Connor hopes to be involved in the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Series, which begins next week in France, once he gets to know Cooper better.

“Our next outing is in the Global Champions Tour in Wiesbaden, Germany, next week. It is the next step in his education. After Wiesbaden, I will know a lot more about him and if I can help the Irish team, I will.”

Meanwhile, O’Connor is settling into his new home in Batterstown, Co Meath.

“It’s between Dunboyne and Summerhill. Ruth and I have a lovely house on 70 acres and, over the next two years, we will be looking to develop an equestrian base and move the horses from Waterside Stud to what will be called Karlswood Farm.”

If you want to see why Cooper has Cian so excited, go to: www.exa.mn/il

*Ten nations will be represented at this year’s Tattersalls International Horse Trials, with Badminton winner Jock Paget among the high-profile field of riders.

Paget’s fellow New Zealander, the current world number 1 and winner of last month’s Rolex Kentucky Horse Trials, Andrew Nicholson, will provide stiff opposition, as will world number 2 William Fox-Pitt. The Briton has won The Irish Field CCI*** for the past two years and returns with Chilli Morning — the stallion he retired on the cross-country in Kentucky as he led the field after dressage — aiming to complete the hat-trick.

In total, 320 horse-and-rider combinations will tackle Ian Stark’s testing course at the Ratoath venue on the June Bank Holiday weekend, including the Irish Olympic team in London, Aoife Clark, Mark Kyle, Camilla Speirs, Joseph Murphy and Michael Ryan.

Further details: www.tattshorsetrials.ie.

*Irish Olympic show jumper Damian Gardiner is in the second week of radiation treatment for cancer.

The California-based rider has a 3.5cm tumour low in his oesophagus which has spread to organs in his stomach, rated at stage 4, according to a post on the website www.gofundme.com. The site is raising money to fund his medical bills and cover daily living expenses, as he has no health insurance. It had elicited a tremendous response as of yesterday, with a total of $17,110 donated by 129 people in 17 days.

Gardiner, 44, is from Crossmolina, Co Mayo, and worked for five years with Iris Kellett before moving to San Diego when aged 20. He represented Ireland at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 with the stallion Arthos.

* To donate: www.gofundme.com/2nzvfc

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