/ Equestrian

Cian O'Connor steers Ireland to brilliant Nations Cup win

Updated: Saturday, 05 Mar 2016 13:54 | Comments

The Ireland team celebrate a memorable victory
The Ireland team celebrate a memorable victory

The Irish team produced an outstanding performance in the early hours of Saturday morning to win a thrilling Nations Cup contest at Wellington in Florida.

A double clear round from last to go, Cian O’Connor, saw Ireland beat the host nation 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 and 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 O’Connor, riding  the Ronnoco Jump Ltd and 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 Americans, 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 Georgina Bloomberg.

Ireland’s anchor rider O’Connor kept his cool to deliver an immaculate second clear with the 10-year-old Sam Du Challois, to leave Ireland as 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.

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." 

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