Top Irish showjumper Cian O’Connor has sold three of his top horses to overseas riders in the past two months.

But Cian’s fans need not worry — there is no suggestion of him giving up the sport.

“It’s business, pure and simple,” he told H&H. “I will miss the horses, but you can’t be afraid to sell when you’ve got a business to run, and I’ve had a lot of interest in my horses of late.”

The trio — Larkhill Cruiser, K Club Lady and Temple Road — have all exchanged hands for undisclosed sums.

Larkhill Cruiser has gone to Saudi Arabia’s Abdullah Al Sharbatly, who won silver at last year’s World Equestrian Games.

The Ukrainian showjumping team snapped up K Club Lady and Temple Road.

The sales are a reflection of a surprisingly robust market.

“Things are really buoyant at the moment, as countries are looking towards getting things in order for 2012,” said Cian.

In addition to Saudi Arabia and the Ukraine, Cian said that Turkey is another nation pursuing good showjumpers in the run up to the Olympics.

Ireland showjumping manager Robert Splaine said: “Nations’ Cup horses are rare and a loss to the team, but business is business. We are a nation of producers and sellers and some emerging countries have bigger budgets, so it is understandable that a rider would accept a big offer.”

This news story was first published in the current issue of Horse & Hound (14 July, 2011)