No stranger to International success, Cian O’Connor returned home to claim his first National Grand Prix win of the year at Eglinton last Sunday. Riding Coco 11, the Olympic Bronze Medallist took the winner’s share of the prize fund in the Gain/Alltech Autumn Grand Prix at the Northern Indoor Championships.
Speaking after the win, O’Connor said “It’s a nice show and I always try to compete at it if I am at home. We are just starting the indoor season and I thought it would be good experience for the horse, but I wasn’t expecting to win. I saw Cormac go and he had an amazing round. I didn’t think that I would catch him and I certainly wasn’t planning to go quick. It was nice to come out on top”
Also representing Karlswood Stables and finishing in the top six was Ross Mulholland accounting for third, while O'Connor's student Lillie Keenan finished fourth.
Only purchased this summer, the 10-year-old gelding Coco 11 by La Poco and out of Championess has delivered some impressive results under O'Connor's command. The pairing finished third in the five star show in Chantilly in July, before heading to the Dublin Horse Show, where they finished third in the Speed Stakes. Coco 11 has now changed ownership, having been sold to American owner Emily Shortt. Prior to O’Connor taking over the ride, the gelding was campaigned by German rider Marco Kutscher.
From a total of 29 starters, 12 combinations delivered clears over the Ian Clarke designed course. On form, American rider, Lillie Keenan delivered the first double clear with Super Sox in 42.00 seconds to put it up to the rest. Keenan’s lead held only temporarily however, as Ross Mulholland took over two seconds off Keenan’s time when clocking 39.80 with Adena Springs Ahmed du Calvaire.
The lead was lowered once again as Cormac Hanley riding Captain Caruso took over four and a half seconds of Mulholland's time when clocking 35.36 seconds.
As expected James Hogg did not hang about with Always On My Mind. The quick pace cost him dearly however, when faulting at the penultimate fence. A fast time of 37.83 would later see him take eventual sixth.
Third last to go, Cian O'Connor knew how to make up the time. Keeping it tight with Coco 11, he made up valuable seconds with a series of calculated turns and a clear in 34.51 proved good enough to take the class, leaving Hanley to take the runner-up position.
Current league leader, John Floody was looking to extend his lead on the board. Floody proved that the time could be beaten when clocking 34.38 with Mise Le Meas, but it came at a price as he faulted at the penultimate. Floody didn’t go home too disappointed however, as fastest time of the class meant a fifth place finish.
Gain/Alltech Autumn Grand Prix at Northern Indoor Championships Eglinton Equestrian Centre Result
1st CoCo II (C O'Connor)0/0/34.51
2nd Captain Caruso (C Hanley)0/0/35.36
3rd Ahmed Du Calevaire (R Mulholland)0/0/39.80
4th Super Sox (L Keenan)0/0/42.00
5th Mise Le Meas (J Floody)0/4/34.38
6th Always On My Mind (J Hogg)0/4/37.83