Team GAIN rider Cian O’Connor win City of Ocala four-star Grand Prix

Team GAIN rider Cian O’Connor win City of Ocala four-star Grand Prix

Team GAIN rider  Cian O’Connor and Seringat claimed a stunning jump-off win in Sunday night’s $100,000 City of Ocala four-star Grand Prix – adding to another win for Ireland in the Florida Nations Cup on Friday.

An incredibly tough first round course saw just three of the 39 starters managing to jump clear, with O’Connor eventually joined in a three-way jump-off by two American riders, Ali Wolff and Beezie Madden.

First to go against the clock, Madden set a tough target when she went clear in 41.43 seconds with Breitling LS, while second to go, Wolff and Casall also went clear in a slightly slower time of 41.86.

Madden and her American team members had watched on two day’s earlier as O’Connor and Seringat completed a double clear round to deny them a home Nations Cup win.

In a copybook repeat performance when last to go, O’Connor and the 11-year-old gelding once again went clear and crucially knocked two-tenths of a second off Madden’s time to give Ireland another superb win.

Speaking afterwards, a delighted O’Connor said:

“I don’t remember the last time I jumped double clear in the Nations Cup and won the Grand Prix so she [Brazil’s Marina Azevedo], is now my new favourite course builder. We bought this horse {Seringat] in November and he hadn’t that much experience. He jumped 1m45 outdoors and he jumped a couple of bigger indoor classes. He is very brave, super careful and has a big jump. He was a bit hard to manoeuvre between the fences. He was good at a World Cup a few weeks ago and I put a lot of time into him before we came here to Ocala.

“The big ring suited him here, impressive jumps and the turns helped me in the first round as it didn’t let him get strong and the jump-off couldn’t have been nicer. It has been an incredible weekend and i’m so happy to cap it off with the Grand Prix win. Seringat has really improved over the last few months and will be a real Grand Prix horse for the future,” O’Connor concluded.

Meath-based O’Connor, who this week chalked up his 111th Nations Cup appearance for his country, walked away with a winners prize of $33,000. Cork’s Shane Sweetnam also took a share of the prize fund, as he finished sixth aboard Chaqui Z with the fastest four fault score from the first round