Equestrian: O'Connor strengthens hand with classy Cruiser
CIAN O'CONNOR has added one of the most successful jumpers on the Irish circuit in recent times to his string of horses.
Larkhill Cruiser -- the nine-year-old gelding which has won all before him with Navan man John Floody this season -- will now step up to international level and heads to the World Cup qualifying show in Geneva next week with his new rider. Larkhill Cruiser was sired by Hartwell Stud's international show jumping stallion Cruising, which won many major competitions, including the prestigious Aachen Grand Prix, during his hugely successful career with Trevor Coyle.
Larkhill Cruiser's dam is by the classically bred Irish Draught stallion Crosstown Dancer.
So far in 2010, Larkhill Cruiser has been Leading Horse in the Chippison Spring Tour and in the highly competitive 10-leg Premier League, and he cannot be beaten for the Leading Horse title in the Kingsland/SJI Autumn series, which draws to a close at Cavan next Sunday.
He was bought as a foal at Goresbridge sales in Kilkenny by former owner Michael Smith from Gormanstown in Meath, and Floody took up the ride when the horse was five.
He won a class at the World Breeding Federation Championships at Lanaken in Belgium as a seven-year-old and O'Connor sees him as a great addition to his stable.
"He's proven he can gallop and win, and it's an added bonus that he's Irish-bred," O'Connor said after the horse arrived at his Meath yard.
"There is still great love for the Irish horse abroad and it will be great to present him on the world stage and promote the Irish horse again. He's only a nine-year-old and he should get even better with age. He's a 'key-in-the-door' horse because John's done such a good job with him," O'Connor added.
"I wish Cian the very best with him," said Floody, who has a life-time connection with O'Connor, whom he taught to ride as a youngster. "Larkhill Cruiser always gave me 100pc. He has a great heart and he's very honest and I'm hoping he'll be as successful for Cian as he was for me."
The horse will be O'Connor's second-string ride as he heads for Geneva next week and then Olympia in London. That will be O'Connor's last show with Splendor, which has been sold to Egypt's Ahmed Talba. The Irishman will be keeping an eye on Splendor's progress with his new rider, however, as he intends to compete in the UAE's Arab League, which begins in January.
Meanwhile, it was officially confirmed yesterday that Germany's Matthias Alexander Rath will be the new rider for the super-stallion Totilas which, partnered by Holland's Edward Gal, has broken every record in international dressage over the last 18 months.
Gal and Totilas won three gold medals at the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky in October, just days before the sale of the horse was announced.