Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s Cian O’Connor’s new flying horse Clenur! This 18hh gelding, by Carinue, only joined the Irishman’s stable in December, but the combination has been causing quite a stir at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) circuit in Florida — not least for 12-year-old Clenur’s extravagant front-leg action over the fences.
“He’s 18hh and I have to keep his body closed,” says Cian. “When I’m coming down to big oxers, I’m telling myself, ‘Don’t put leg on’ because if you get too close he goes too high. So I have to be disciplined that I leave it late to ask him to jump the back pole. But he’s starting to give fewer awkward jumps and more classical ones.”
The Oldenburg gelding was brought up to the top level by Germany’s Marco Kutscher, having been produced in his early days by owner Armin Himmelreich, before Cian took over the reins at the end of last year. The pair finished third in WEF’s five-star grand prix on Saturday (10 February), with just a time-fault in round one keeping them out of a two-way jump-off for the top honours.
“He’s a very big horse to manoeuvre around,” says Cian. “The big ring suits him. It’s only the fourth or fifth class that I’ve done with him here. He took a little bit of a wobble down the last line to the water tray vertical. I was clear then, and I just cantered down. Maybe I could have been a little quicker coming to the third last. But I’m very happy with my cheque.”
Cian and Clenur now look set to be a very strong addition to Ireland’s squad for the five-star Nations Cup at Ocala, Florida, this Sunday (18 February), where the team will be hoping to defend the title won at the venue last year. Cian will be joined by Daniel Coyle (Cita or Grafton), Darragh Kenny (Go Easy De Muze), Paul O’Shea (Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu) and Shane Sweetnam (Chaqui Z or Main Road).
*Photos courtesy of Sportfot*
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