Irish Olympic bronze medallist Cian O’Connor has sold the horse that brought him success at the London Games.
Blue Loyd, a 12-year-old gelding owned by O’Connor, along with Barbara and Charlie O’Reilly-Hyland, has been bought by Austrian-Canadian auto-parts magnate Frank Stronach. It is speculated that the horse is for a family member.
The deal brings to an end a relationship that began just a year ago when O’Connor acquired the horse from Norwegian Nina Braaten.
“I only began riding Blue Loyd in November of last year and what an amazing 12 months it’s been,” said O’Connor yesterday.
“He’s a fantastic horse, marked out by his bravery. He carried me to history, winning Ireland’s first Olympic show jumping medal. It’s funny how things fall into place.
“I am very happy also for the owners, the O’Reilly-Hylands. They have been unwavering in their support.”
Blue Loyd’s new owner, Austrian-born Stronach, is the founder and honorary chairman of Magna International, North America’s largest car parts manufacturer which supplies, among others, General Motors, Ford, BMW and Toyota.
Stronach’s interests also include many prominent racetracks in the US, while he is also among the world’s leading thoroughbred breeders. In addition, he owns the Magna Racino equestrian complex in Austria.
O’Connor said he was approached only last week by Stronach.
“Mr Stronach has a great love of horses, being a leading breeder of thoroughbreds across America, and I am going to be involved in ensuring a smooth transition for Blue Loyd’s new rider. I am confident they will be a successful team,” said O’Connor.
He declined to discuss the price, citing a confidentiality agreement, but it is fair to say it runs into millions.
Asked if he envisaged developing a closer relationship with Stronach, O’Connor said: “It’s great to meet people like Mr Stronach, who was a pleasure to deal with, and I will help in any way I can.”
O’Connor has developed a reputation for his business acumen and drive, particularly by giving his horse owners a return for their investment.
“I am always looking for new horses and I am lucky to have the strongest group of owners I’ve ever had. They are happy to support me in my bid for the Rio Olympics and I will be on the lookout for good prospects,” said the 33-year-old, who is based at Meath’s Waterside Stud.
“I would love to keep horses like Blue Loyd for myself and the country, but I need to develop my business and there is no support mechanism for keeping such horses for the Irish team,” he said.
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