Cian O’Connor is hoping the celebrations that greeted the arrival on Wednesday of a second child, Cara Louise, to him and his wife Ruth will continue this weekend at the Global Champions Tour (GCT) final in Doha, Qatar.
The couple were over the moon to have a sister for Ben, who was born in 2013, but the Meath-based show jumper had little time to lavish love on the baby, as he turned his attention to competition, though only for a couple of days.
“It was nice timing on the baby’s part, as it means I can go to Doha, but it’s a short show, so I’ll be back in Ireland by Sunday morning,” said O’Connor ahead of his flight last night.
The spirit of his mount’s name, Good Luck, was absent last year when the Olympic bronze medallist rued four faults in the GCT final and he is determined to show improvement in the €450,000 contest tomorrow, which will also see Bertram Allen and Denis Lynch carry Irish hopes.
“In last year’s final with Good Luck, we had one fence down, so I’m looking to go better this year,” said O’Connor. “He’s been in Doha since Monday, along with Callisto. Michael Kelly has been working them all week and says they are in great shape. In the last few weeks, Good Luck has had a double clear in the five-star grand prix in Los Angeles, and he was also clear in the World Cup qualifier in Oslo, so I’m looking forward to a good performance this weekend. It’s not a long show for the horses. I’ll give them a pop on Friday ahead of the grands prix on Saturday, I’ll jump Callisto in the €300,000 grand prix and Good Luck in the €450,000 grand prix. I’m hoping they’ll build up to height, as the bigger the better for my horses.”
He also intends to extend Good Luck’s season this year.
“Because Good Luck is jumping so well, I have decided to campaign him longer this winter. I will jump him in the World Cup show in Stuttgart this month and the Rolex Million Grand Prix in Geneva in December. Then, he will be sent to Florida immediately afterwards for quarantine ahead of next year’s Winter Equestrian Festival. I’ll take it easy with him for the first few weeks and let him settle in with the aim of peaking for the million dollar grand prix,” said O’Connor, who placed second in the competition this year.
The Irish stalwart picked up World Cup points when 10th in Oslo, Norway, and, aside from lining out in Stuttgart in a couple of weeks, he will also compete Super Sox at the World Cup show in Madrid, Spain, at the end of the month.
“The World Cup final in Omaha next March is not a particular goal, but if it lands in my lap, I’ll definitely grab the opportunity,” he said.
Ireland’s elite show jumpers are gathering in Dublin on November 14 in a bid to rectify a situation that has seen failure to qualify a team for the last three Olympics. O’Connor said: “Discussion is always helpful. The key aim of everybody is to design and look at a roadmap for success at championships and the Olympics. We can learn from the past, but we should not dwell on it too much, as it’s unhealthy. One would like to think this is a group of like-minded people working together to produce good results as a team.”
The FEI bureau awarded WEG to the venue after the controversial withdrawal of Bromont, Canada. A lack of funding saw the FEI and the Bromont organisers agree to terminate their contract in July.
The FEI said that with the Games on in less than two years, existing infrastructure was a crucial factor in selecting Tryon, which is situated on a 1,600-acre site at the foothills of the Blue Mountains. The FEI said the venue “has 1,200 permanent stables, 12 arenas, including a floodlit international arena with a potential spectator seating capacity of up to 12,000 and VIP seating for up to 1,500, a covered arena with 5,000 seats, and a world-class cross-country course for eventing and driving”.
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