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Ride of my life: Cian O’Connor

Cian O’Connor recalls his ride on Waterford Crystal at Hickstead

Trevor Coyle had Cruising, Peter Charles had La Ina and Gerry Mullins had Rockbarton, and in 30 years time I think I will look back and say that I had Waterford Crystal. He’s that kind of special horse. I want to look after him and make the most of him.

My sponsors Waterford Crystal and Independent News and Media purchased Waterford Crystal, then called Limbani K, for me in May 2000 when he was only nine years old.

Since then they have, on many occasions, turned down vast offers from potential buyers, and I am very grateful that I have a top-class horse for Jerez and eventually for Athens Olympic Games.

Waterford Crystal is a fast learner. He loves his wine gums every day and has a few hours in the paddock for a kick and a buck. He’s a quiet, easy horse to work with and has a good sense of humour. After he’s jumped his round, he kicks back, as if to say: “Didn’t I do well?”

The most memorable round of my life with Waterford Crystal so far was when he jumped in the second round of the Nations Cup at Hickstead in July.

When we cleared the last fence – a combination – I knew that I was double clear and that should confirm my place on the championship team for Jerez, which it did.

Our chef d’equipe Tommy Wade isn’t normally extravagant with praise, but after the two rounds he said to me: “It was scary to watch, but the horse jumped good.”

Samsung has given people like me, with good young horses, a chance to excel. At the end of 2001, Waterford Crystal had been on seven winning Nations Cup teams. and jumped double clears in four of them.

The Nations Cups’ built my partnership up with Waterford Crystal and at Royal Dublin we were awarded 25,000 Swiss francs for the Samsung Leading Horse and Rider.

After Jerez, I’m looking forward preparing Waterford Crystal for major grands prix in Aachen, Calgary and Dublin next year.

Don’t miss this week’s Horse & Hound (19 September) where Johnny O’Shea talks about his ‘ride of a lifetime’ on High School.

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