Equestrian: Christmas cheer for O'Connor at Olympia
Cian O'Connor made the perfect start to the world-famous Christmas Show at Olympia in London when winning the opening Two-Phase class yesterday with Umberto.
From a starting field of 37, the 31-year-old Meath rider set the target with a double-clear in 25.15 seconds when 22nd into the ring.
John Whitaker posed the biggest threat when breaking the beam with Dazzle in 25.32 seconds, but that was as close as the rest would get to the Irishman who, last December, recorded an historic victory in the Grand Prix at this British fixture riding Rancorrado.
The last Irish winner of the prestigious Olympia trophy was Eddie Macken in 1987, and O'Connor will be hoping to have a cut at it again next Monday evening.
Shortly after taking up the ride on the Declan McEvoy's little gelding four weeks ago, O'Connor predicted the horse would do something special before Christmas and he has lived up to expectations, winning two international com-petitions over the last five days.
O'Connor's top horse, Splendor, has already been sold to Egypt, but the Irishman retains the ride until after the Christmas period when he will travel to compete on the Gulf Tour.
He will partner Splendor in Sunday's Rolex FEI World Cup qualifier and again in Monday's Grand Prix.