Cian O’Connor will miss the opening Nations Cup shows of the current season due to a groin injury that will put him out of action for six weeks.
The injury, which manifested itself at the three-star show in Eschweiler, Germany last week, has been diagnosed as a torn ligament.
O’Connor said this morning: “At my last show in Eschweiler I sustained a groin injury.
“I’d like to thank Helena Stormanns, show organiser, and the Allen family for their help both at the show and in pointing me in the right direction on the road to recovery.
“I was really looking forward to being part of the Irish teams at La Baule and Rome and indeed my GCL team Miami Glory in Madrid, but unfortunately under doctor’s advice it is best I miss these outings. I’ll now focus my efforts on getting my injury healed first and foremost, as well as coaching my students.
It’s far from ideal but it could always be worse!”
Spectators at Eschweiler were mystified when O’Connor pulled up the talented gelding Super Sox after clearing the first element of a combination in Saturday’s Grand Prix qualifier and then immediately retired, leaving the arena ashen-faced.
O’Connor said: “Before coming into the combination I jumped the previous fence and felt something tear, and I completely lost my balance. The pain was quite severe, so I decided to retire rather than risk further damage.”
The Olympic bronze medallist had an MRI scan on Monday, which confirmed the ligament damage.
O’Connor’s absence is likely to cause the first big selection problem for new Irish High Performance Manager Rodrigo Pessoa, who had the rider already pegged for a slot on both the La Baule and Rome squads.
Meanwhile, Pessoa has confirmed his team for the first Nations Cup of the 2017 series at Lummen in Belgium on Friday, which is not a points-scoring outing for Ireland and therefore not as significant as the ones immediately following.
Ireland’s Lummen team will be Dermott Lennon (Loughview Lou Lou), Richard Howley (Chinook), Paul Kennedy (Cartown Danger Mouse) and Michael Duffy (Belcanto Z).