In a remarkable Grand Prix comeback after six weeks recovering from injury, Ireland’s Cian O’Connor made short work of the opposition at the five-star show in Sopot Poland today.
The Meath-based rider incurred a serious groin strain at a three-star show in Eschweiler in Germany in April, and since returning to big arena shows this month has been ramping up the pressure, with a fourth place in the Wiesbaden Grand Prix under a week ago, and a clear jumping round in the Polish Nations Cup on Friday.
It was today, however, that he showed a return to his very best form, with two faultless rounds from the elevated jumping of his top horse Good Luck earning him 50,000 euro for a first place.
The tough Sopot Grand Prix course yielded only three first-round clears from a starting field of 50, and it was the 11 year-old Good Luck, jumping 41st in order, who produced one of them.
O’Connor said afterwards: “I’m thrilled with today’s Grand Prix win. Good Luck deserves this big day and hopefully we will have many more to come. He’s an extraordinary athlete and every day I ride him I realise how lucky I am.”
Under today’s Grand Prix rules, a total of 13 riders went through to the second round, including the three zero-scoring riders O’Connor, Portugal’s Luciana Diniz and Marc Houtzager from the Netherlands.
Second last to jump, Diniz with the talented Fit for Fun laid down a fast speed of 48.77, which she seemed confident would not be challenged. O’Connor and Good Luck, though, managed to shave 1.18 seconds off that figure and romped home to thunderous applause.