'Absolutely fantastic' - Cian O'Connor leads Ireland to dramatic Nations Cup victory in Florida
The Irish team produced an outstanding performance to win a thrilling Nations Cup contest at Wellington in Florida today.
A double clear round from last to go, Cian O’Connor, saw Ireland beat the host nation from the USA, in a dramatic finish to the $150,000 four-star contest.
Co Down’s Conor Swail had opened for Ireland with a clear round aboard the Ariel & Susan Grange-owned mare, Martha Louise. Cork’s Shane Sweetnam added a second clear with Buckle up, who he owns along with the Buckle Up Group. Another opening round clear from Meath-based Cian O’Connor, riding the Ronnoco Jump Ltd & Jean-Claude Jobin-owned stallion Sam Du Challois, saw Ireland level with their American hosts at the halfway stage on a zero score.
Swail and Sweetnam both had a single fence down each in the second round, before Kilkenny’s Richie Moloney heaped pressure on the American’s, with a foot-perfect clear aboard the Equinimity LLC-owned Carrabis Z.
The USA’s last line rider Beezie Madden, retired with her horse Simon after they crashed through a fence, meaning they had to count the eight fault score of Audrey Coulter. Ireland’s anchor rider Cian O’Connor, kept his cool to deliver an immaculate second clear with the 10-year-old Sam Du Challois, to leave Ireland as clear winners on just a four fault total over two rounds.
The United States finished second on eight faults, with Colombia on 16 faults finishing third of the seven nations that took part.
Superb double clear from anchorman Cian with Sam du Challois secured Ireland 1st place in the Wellington Nations' Cup, Florida tonight.— Cian O'Connor (@Cian_O_Connor) March 5, 2016
Irish Show Jumping manager Robert Splaine said afterwards:
"This was an absolutely fantastic job by four very professional riders. The all played their part, jumping at least one clear round each and Cian [O'Connor] jumping a double clear. Richie's [Moloney] comeback in the second round was phenomenal and really put it up to the USA. It really was a fantastic win and very positive for the future. I would like to congratulate our four riders and a big thank you must go to the owners of our horses."