Cian O’Connor has become just the third Irish rider in history to win a European Championship individual medal, after he claimed bronze with a stunning performance at the Longines FEI European Championships.
After five intense rounds of jumping which began last Wednesday, O’Connor and the 11-year-old stallion Good Luck, who is owned by Adena Springs & Ronnoco Jump, finished on just 6.25 penalties to take third place on the podium, adding to the team gold medal they won just 48 hours earlier at the Ullevi Stadium.
Speaking afterwards, a delighted Cian O’Connor was keen to pay tribute to his horse and thank his support team,
“I’m over the moon, it’s been an excellent week to win team gold and to finish with three riders in the top 10 individually. As our assistant manager Michael Blake said, the famine is over. It could have been even better, the lightest of rubs cost us gold but that’s the sport with small margins at this top level.
“Good Luck has been incredible. He has learned now to go fast against the clock which he showed on the opening day. I am very lucky to have a huge support team around me at Karlswood and I want to thank them all for their effort and support. In particular I want to thank Good Luck’s groom Alan O’Brien, along with Ross Mullholland and Michael Kelly who do so much work behind the scenes riding our horses and with our training.”
London Olympic bronze medal winner O’Connor, joins an elite group of Irish European Championship individual medal winners which includes Peter Charles who won gold at St Gallen, Switzerland in 1995 riding La Ina, and Eddie Macken who won the silver medal in Austria in 1977 riding Kerrygold.
An incredible result for Ireland saw Cork’s Shane Sweetnam and Chaqui Z finish eighth overall and Tipperary’s Denis Lynch with All Star in 10th. Sweden’s Peder Fredricson took the gold in front of his home fans with H&M All In on a score of 5.0 penalties, while The Netherlands Harrie Smolders claimed silver with Don VHP Z on 5.52 penalties.
After an incredible result at his first championships as Irish team manager, Rodrigo Pessoa was already looking forward to the next challenge,
“We are very happy. Championships are always really tight. For Cian to win a bronze medal and three riders in the top 10 along with our team gold is fantastic. Our next event will be the Nations Cup world final in Barcelona. We will digest this now and see how these horses come out of this Championships first before picking a team [for Barcelona]. We then have to sit down and make a plan for next years World Equestrian Games, save these combinations and try to also create new ones for next year.”