O’Connor takes the grand prix, ‘Frenchy’ takes the Golf GTI

It was all about Das Auto yesterday for show jumper Cian O’Connor, who won a Golf GTI and promptly handed the keys to his groom.

The Olympic bronze medalist made the gesture after winning the grand prix in Sommerstorf, Germany. It was a sign of appreciation to Clement Waras, whose country of origin has earned him the nickname ‘Frenchy’.

“Frenchy has been with me through thick and thin over the last seven years, including the London Olympics, and the decision was quite simple: My wife and I both have cars and he does not. So Frenchy gets the Golf,” said O’Connor. “He’s been a super support to me over a long period and is always working so hard to help me win, as do all my team. But Frenchy has been wanting a car for ages, so I thought, why not give him this one.”

Victory in the two-star contest proved easy for the 33-year-old Meath-based rider and Beverley Widdowson’s 12-year-old gelding Unique, the pair coming home with almost two seconds to spare over Germany’s Carsten-Otto Nagel and Holiday by Solitour.

“Unique has been a consistent performer since joining my stables at the beginning of the year, and has delivered great performances in the United Arab Emirates, Austria and more recently in Norten Hardenburg in Germany. We came here to win the grand prix and that’s just what we did,” said O’Connor, who has been selected as part of the squad to contest the German Nations Cup Show in Aachen in a fortnight.

Also savouring grand prix success was rising star Bertram Allen, leading home Niall Talbot on Nicos de la Cense in an Irish one-two in Vimeiro, Portugal.

The rising star of Irish show jumping had almost a second to spare in a 13-horse jump-off with the stallion Romanov, as he denied Talbot his second GP win in seven days. It was a hat-trick for 17-year-old Wexford native Allen, who also took the top prize in a speed class on Zenzation and opened his account with Wild Thing on Friday. Along the way, he also placed second with Romanov and was twice second on Wild Thing, which included losing out to Swiss-based Talbot on Wido

At the five-star show in Spruce Meadows, Canada, Mayo’s Cameron Hanley continued to impress following his return after a two-year, injury-enforced lay-off. Having provided one of Ireland’s two double clears in their nations cup victory on Thursday, Hanley went on to ride the 10-year-old French-bred Player du Quesnoy to third place in the derby, with American McLain Ward and Wannahave taking the plaudits.

Yesterday, Down’s Conor Swail steered Martha Swail to second place in a 1.45m jump-off class.

In the Longines Global Champions Tour contest in Cannes, France, four faults for Denis Lynch and All Star 5 was good enough to give him a place in the next round, where a clear saw him finish in ninth place.


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