European Championships 2017 team gold medal and individual bronze

Cian O'Connor riding Blue Loyd at London 2012

Ireland had not won a European Championships team gold medal since 2001, but in 2017, under the guidance of new Chef d’Equipe Rodrigo Pessoa, a structured campaign was undertaken to have the best Irish riders and their horses at the peak of their form for the Gothenburg finals in August.

Cian was joined on the team by Shane Sweetnam, Denis Lynch and Bertram Allen, with Mark McAuley the reserve.

The Irish team performed at the very top of its game through the three rounds of the championships and managed to claim the gold medal on the scores of just three riders, when Bertram Allen and Hector van d’Abdijhoeve were eliminated following a fall on the previous day and withdrew from subsequent competition.

It required three faultless rounds from Cian, Denis and Shane to ensure a win, as they did not have the benefit of a discard score, and all three delivered in the final round to claim the trophy and the gold medals.

Two days later Cian and his horse Good Luck faced the daunting test of the individual European championships, lying fourth on the scoreboard as they entered the arena for two more challenging rounds.

Second-last to go, Cian had to jump clear to be in with a chance of a gold medal, but Good Luck dropped one vital pole and Cian found himself in third place, behind Harrie Smolders from the Netherlands on Don VHP Z, who went clear for the silver medal, and individual leader, Sweden’s own Peter Fredricson with H&M All In, who claimed the gold.

Cian’s bronze medal at Gothenburg was only the third individual European medal ever won by an Irish rider.