It all came down the wire in showjumping this afternoon. Irish rider Austin O’Connor sat in fourth place, but pulled off the win with a clear round, passing Mia Farley, William Fox-Pitt and Oliver Townend. Check out the flying leap “Salty” made over the Liverpool and Austin’s quick recovery to understand the luck of the Irish. This was O’Connor’s first 5* win and the first time an Irish rider has won a 5* event in 58 years! O’Connor is no stranger to the podium, as he finished third in this year’s Badminton Horse Trials.
O’Connor and Salty were 12th after dressage and moved up to 4th after finishing cross-country with just 1.2 time penalties. Only one rider finished cross country within the allotted time — Mia Farley on Phelps, who completed her first 5* event in fifth place. Today, O’Connor was the only rider to jump clear. Townend and Cooley Rosalent, who led going into Stadium, had two rails down, while Fox-Pitt and Grafennacht, who remained in second place, had a single rail.
“He always looked a good horse, but I guess a bit like myself, with age he’s just got better. Or lucky!” he said with a laugh. “But he’s 85% Thoroughbred—he’s all blood, he’s all class, he’s all heart, and he’ll try and try and try to the bitter end. From day 1 he looked a proper, proper horse.”
“Unbelievable. People like me, we’re not supposed to win five-stars, but hey, it’s just happened I think. You know, it’s the end result of a lifetime’s work really. Ultimately it’s all about the horse. He’s unbelievable. He’s been a champion for years and privately I was prepared to give him to somebody better because I felt he deserved to win a five-star and I didn’t think I could ever win one with him, but here we are.”Austin O’connor
There were a lot of tears of happiness after this win and even watching this online, the overwhelming feeling I got was that everyone thought this was a win well deserved.