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O'Connor takes top prize in Beijing

Cian O’Connor rode a double clear round to win at the FEI World Cup Jumping China League on Wednesday.

OLYMPIC BRONZE MEDALLIST Cian O’Connor made a little piece of showjumping history on Wednesday with a win at the FEI World Cup Jumping China League in Beijing.

O’Connor beat more than 40 international competitors to become the first non-Chinese rider to win the fledgling event’s showjumping class.

With all riders allocated Chinese-based horses due to quarantine restrictions, the 32-year-old scored the only double clear round on board Wavanta at the Beijing International Equestrian Club.

China’s Bian Baciren finished second with Dutch rider Edwin Smits in third.

The China League was established in 2011 and is the only way Chinese riders can qualify for the World Cup finals at the end of the year, while also offering local jumpers a chance to compete against some of the world’s best.

“I am absolutely thrilled to win this major event here in China and perhaps contribute to the very encouraging relationship which is emerging between China and Ireland in regard to our respective horse industries,” said O’Connor, who has been coaching as well as competing in Beijing this week.

The talent, enthusiasm and love for the horse was evident to see in the Chinese riders. These attributes can be further developed and nurtured with good quality coaching and a long term structure which could ultimately culminate in these riders being on the Olympic podium themselves at future games.

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Niall Kelly

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