December 2017 - Year in Review

Cian O'Connor at Olympia in London

Cian O'Connor at Olympia in London

We’ve just finished one of my favourite shows of the year in Olympia in London and that draws the curtain on 2017 for all of us at Karlswood Stables. What a year it has been.

Nicole Walker

Nicole Walker

Nicole Walker has progressed this year from jumping 2 and 3 star shows to competing and being placed in 4 and 5 star shows. With her reliable servant Falco van Spieveld, she finished 3rd in a 4 star Grand Prix qualifier in Florida, then 2nd in a 5 star 150 class at Spruce Meadows, but undoubtedly her outstanding achievement for 2017 was winning the 3 star Grand Prix At Harrisburg in Pennsylvania.

Nikki has climbed from 595th to 343rd in the world rankings and this is a reward for the hard work that she continues to put into her riding. Nikki has also had great success with her other Grand Prix mount Excellent B and the pair were recently crowned young rider champions at the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto.

Lillie Keenan

Lillie Keenan

Lillie Keenan has finished 2017 ranked 101st in the Longines World rankings. This is an incredible achievement for someone who is still at school but managing to compete at the highest level. Lillie’s strike rate at Nations Cups in 2017 is particularly impressive – she competed in three and won two.

The highlight of those successes came in Dublin 5* CSIO where Lillie and the amazing Super Sox were part of the winning USA team and Lillie provided an all important clear round.

Other highlights for Lillie in 2017 include winning four international classes with her mare Be Gentle, winning the 150 Grand Prix qualifier with Super Sox at Wiesbaden 4 star, finishing 3rd in the Grand Prix at Wiesbaden 4 star, finishing 2nd in the 160 jump off class at Spruce Meadows Masters with Super Sox and also winning the Nations Cup at Spruce Meadows Masters aboard the newest member of her team, Fibonacci. These two girls are proof that if you put in the hard work, believe in the programme and stick to the plan, everything is possible!

Cian O'Connor with ......

Cian O'Connor with ......

On a personal note, I’m extremely grateful for the results that my amazing horses have given me in 2017. I’ve been extremely fortunate to have horses like Seringat, Callisto and Copain du Perchet who have allowed me to win numerous classes all over the world.

Seringat provided me with two Nations Cup victories where he was double clear on both occasions and then he also won the City of Ocala Grand Prix.

Callisto won the Championat at Treffen 5 star Show, jumped a super clear for Team Ireland in the Nations Cup in Falsterbo, before a very impressive performance to win a 150 class at Aachen 5 star.

Copain du Perchet became a winning machine for me and in the space of a 10 week period he won six international classes, all at 5 star level.

Cian O'Connor with Good Luck

Cian O'Connor with Good Luck

However I would not be doing justice to my main horse Good Luck if I didn’t acknowledge how incredible 2017 has been for him and I.

People often talk about a horse of a lifetime and I believe that Luke fits into this category. I feel privileged everyday that I get to compete this “freak” and I thank Mr Frank Stronach for believing in me when I proposed this horse to him as an 8 year and told him I thought he was going to be a star.


Cian with Luke

Cian with Luke

This year Luke has become an icon of our sport and along the way he has placed 1st, 2nd and 4th in three 5 star Grands Prix.

The culmination of 2017 was the European Championships in Gothenburg and it was here that Luke excelled. He provided an amazing double clear to guarantee that Team Ireland won Gold and then he deservedly won an individual Bronze medal two days later.


I finish 2017 ranked 24th in the world, ten places higher than this time last year, and this is a reflection on the team of horses that I have had this year. A list of my personal highlights is below.

Twenty-seventeen was also a year where I was laid up with injury. In April I tore a muscle in my groin and was unable to compete for eight weeks in total. I have to compliment but in particular Andy Dunne and Ronan Fallon who worked tirelessly through the year to firstly help me recover and then keep me from having a recurrence of my injury. Thank you, guys.

Cian at Rotterdam

Cian at Rotterdam

And to finish off what has been a remarkable year, I want to take the opportunity to thank the many people who help and assist me and are extremely important cogs in the wheel that keeps Karlswood producing these impressive results.

There are so many to mention but whether it be my grooms, assistant coaches, vet, farrier, truck drivers, without the dedication that these staff offer on a daily basis the Karlswood operation wouldn’t function, and I thank every single one of them for the work they do.


I also have to pay tribute to all the owners of my horses, the clients whom we work with and the partners with whom I had horses during this amazing year.

Lastly, but most importantly, I want to thank my wife Ruth who makes more sacrifices than anyone else to help me achieve all that I aim for. Without the support that Ruth provides I believe this journey would not be possible.

Now let’s enjoy the next day or two of 2017 and then our attention will turn towards making 2018 just as successful! Or knowing us all at Karlswood, we will want even more!



Personal Highlights 2017

Team Gold European Championships

Individual Bronze European Championships

Winning three Nations Cups (Ocala, Wellington, European Championships)

Earning 7 more Caps for Team Ireland

Winning the 5 star Grand Prix in Sopot

Winning the 4 star Grand Prix at Ocala

2nd 5 star Grand Prix in Rotterdam

3rd 5 star Grand Prix at Treffen (Villach)

Winning two classes at Treffen 5 star

Winning two classes at Aachen CSIO 5 star

Winning two classes at Dublin CSIO 5 star

Cian ranked 24th in the Longines world rankings December 2017

Thirty-eight top ten placings

Fourteen first places

One second place

Nine third places

Awards 2017

Showjumpers Club Gala, Ireland:

International Rider of the Year, member of Team of the Year.

FEI Gold Badge of Honour for 118 caps with Irish team to date

Member of the Team of the Year, Excellence in Sport Awards in aid of the Irish Youth Foundation

Member of the winning 2017 Team of the Year at the annual RTE television Sports Awards in Ireland, where our European Championship team took the Team Award by public vote, against tough opposition from other popular major sports.

Happy New Year from Team Karlswood!

Cian O'Connor