Equestrian: O'Connor holds slim lead after Complete display
Cian O'Connor heads the HSI Chippison Spring Tour Grand Prix series by a one-point margin going into today's fifth leg at Broadmeadows Equestrian Centre in Meath.
A second win with Stephen O'Connor and Castlemartin Stud's Complete in last Sunday's round at Kill International added maximum points to those won at Cavan two weeks earlier, where the Meath rider took both of the top two placings.
O'Connor's former tutor, John Floody, lies second on the leaderboard just one point ahead of Clem McMahon in third, but there are another nine legs left to run before the final at Coilog in Kildare on April 18.
The massive start-list of 72 runners in last Sunday's competition is indicative of the continuing popularity of the sport despite the ravages of the economic downturn, and yesterday Show Jumping Ireland (SJI) Chairman, Ronan Corrigan, confirmed that the sport at national level is in rude health.
Corrigan has taken the organisation by the throat since appointed chairman in January 2008 and reported yesterday that overall registrations for horses, owners and riders is down just 2.7pc on the previous year.
"They are pouring in right now and we've turned around an excess of €250,000 in the previous year to a surplus of €32,000 for the year ending October 31 2009, in which we had a turnover of €2.15m," he said.
"Fees had to go up, insurance and TV coverage costs were hammered down and there was cuts everywhere, but it's paying dividends and the sport is all the better for it."
A lot of work previously out-sourced is now being managed in-house and Corrigan is pleased that administrative costs now take up less than 10pc of the SJI's entire budget.
He is particularly delighted about the growth in junior membership over the last few years and with the huge numbers of children turning out for the seven-leg Pony Spring Tour, which began in Dundalk last month and which concludes at Cavan on April 4.
SJI purchased brand new offices in Naas, Kildare, some years ago and it was considered an extravagance by some at the time, but Corrigan pointed out yesterday that "the building will be paid for by the time those children are in their mid-20s. It's an investment in their legacy".