IRELAND’S Cian O’Connor secured an individual Olympic bronze medal in dramatic style in Greenwich Park on Wednesday afternoon. After failing to initially make the cut for the individual final, O’Connor and two other reserves got a late call-up after Wednesday morning’s veterinary inspection.

Second into the arena, O’Connor produced an incredible clear over the testing course. Riding Blue Loyd 12, a horse he owns in partnership with Irish junior rider Max O’Reilly-Hyland, O’Connor measured every line with great accuracy.

The only moment of concern came on the approach to the final fence, the planks, when Blue Loyd ran around slightly. However, O’Connor regained his balance and the pair crossed the line clear. The rider said afterwards: “I can’t believe it; I’m absolutely delighted. We have jumped fantastically well. I hope we can keep it going.”

The track took its toll on most of his 37 rivals, with just five others recording clear rounds. Four completed the course with just one time fault.

Second round

O’Connor was first of the clears to jump in the second round. The combination at seven had caused problems for many, but O’Connor and the 12-year-old Blue Loyd survived a rub at the first two elements, and appeared to be clear.

However, with the time allowed set at 80 seconds, he picked up a single fault when his time of 80.02 seconds flashed up on the scoreboard.

Dutch rider Gerco Schroder on the appropriately-named London also had a single fault, forcing a jump-off to decide silver and bronze medals, the gold going to Swiss rider Steve Guerdat on Nino Des Buissonnets, the only combination to record a double clear.

Schroder was first to jump off and set a tough target with a clear in 49.79 seconds. O’Connor was up on that target throughout, but racing to the last proved costly as Blue Loyd caught it behind, completing on four faults in 46.64 seconds.

Of the jump-off round, O’Connor said: “I haven’t much experience with this horse against the clock, and maybe could have taken one more stride to the last. We had to go for it. This horse has never seen fences like this in his life. It has been a wonderful journey.

“It proved I can deliver on the big day. I don’t think I am one of the best riders in the world, but I am one of the most planned and organised.

“You don’t win by chance, you win by planning.”

Murphy’s trip from Ballydoyle to Connemara pays dividends


THE Midlands Region meeting on Omey Beach in Connemara got the best of the weather last Saturday, and a large holiday crowd turned out for the annual meeting.

Sixteen-year-old Oisin Murphy made the journey from Ballydoyle, where he is working for the summer, a profitable one as he recorded a treble. He started the day in the best possible fashion as he guided Drive On Georgie to a bloodless pillar-to-post victory in the 14.2hh race.

With Luke Dempsey signed off from pony racing, and embarking on his apprenticeship with Tommy Carmody, Murphy stepped in for the ride on Denis Coakley’s Neon Tiger in the two-mile race, and they took this in good style from Swagger Jagger. The winner struck the front two furlongs out and strode away to record his third success in the race.

Murphy completed his day’s work when landing the concluding maiden on Sand Man, who is trained in Ballinasloe by Aidan Gallagher for his wife Antoinette. The rider was always prominent before gaining the initiative inside the final quarter mile for an impressive victory.

National Stud needs manager


THE Irish National Stud is still without a manager, as advertising for the job has been reopened.

At first glance it looks identical to the one that appeared last April, but on closer perusal a salary of £19,500 to £22,000 is now quoted. This obviously has escaped the nefarious clutches of the Denning semi-state wage structures.

Although no figure was given with the original advertisement, it was common knowledge that the successful applicant would get no more than the paltry Denning maximum of £16,500.

The National Stud continues to battle on. It has bought a half-share in that fine sprinter Indian King, who beat the Ascot course record when winning the Cork and Orrery Stakes. The other half is owned by Stallion Investments, and the purchase price was around $1 million for the colt.

This price would have been considerably more if the deal had been made after, rather than just before, the race. To finance this transaction, the stud has sold Malinowski to New York. Michael Osborne has, for some time, been apprehensive about the advancing age of his stallions.

However, Osborne regretfully admits that “gone are the days when we could afford to buy the likes of European champions such as Sallust.” Hopefully some notice will be taken of his observations at Government level, although I doubt it.

Murless sets new trainer record


NOEL Murless, the Newmarket trainer, by winning the Alfriston Stakes with Queen Elizabeth’s filly Candytuft at Brighton on Thursday, set a record for the amount of stakes won by an English trainer in one year.

With 14 weeks of the season still to go, his horses have won £94,080 and 14 shillings. The previous record was Joe Lawson’s £93,899 and 10 shillings back in 1931.

Noel Murless’s successes this season include the Derby and 2000 Guineas with Crepello, the Oaks with the Queen’s Carrozza, the Queen Mary Stakes with Abelia, and the Eclipse Stakes and the King Edward VII Stakes with Arctic Explorer.

It was perfectly fitting that the prize-winning horse which actually set the new figure should be a filly owned by the Queen and ridden by Lester Piggott. The Queen is leading owner at the moment and is enjoying her best ever season, while Piggott’s successes this season have been almost fabulous.

RDS and Phoenix Park are at odds


WE reproduce elsewhere in this issue the correspondence between Mr E Bohane, director of the Royal Dublin Society, and Mr Harry Peard, secretary of the Phoenix Park Club, regarding the provisional reservation by the RDS of the Saturday of Horse Show week, for the purpose of extending the show.

It was inevitable that there would be a clash when the Horse Show committee of the RDS made the announcement that, possibly, the Saturday of the Horse Show week would be taken in next year. This is seen, in effect, as a declaration of war against the Phoenix Park Club, to whom that Saturday is the day of days, so far as the racing season is concerned.

“If the Saturday of Horse Show week is taken from us,” says Mr Peard in effect, “you force the Phoenix Park Club to close down as a racing entity. Without the possible profits of that day, the Club cannot carry on.”

That there is no exaggeration in this statement everybody in touch with racing is only too well aware.

Says Mr Bohane, in effect: “You adversely affected our Wednesday afternoon’s attendance at the Horse Show by moving your Friday evening meeting to Wednesday evening. Besides, it is my dream or intention to coax the Horse Show into a second week, and a Saturday fixture would help largely in bringing this about.”