Irish Olympian Cian O’Connor finished as runner-up in the €400,000 Rolex five-star Grand Prix of Rome at the famed Piazza di Sienna.
Riding the 11-year-old mare Irenice Horta, the Irish Olympian posted the fastest of just four clears in the first round, to give him the best position as last to go in the second round.
The top 11 combinations in the second round also included Darragh Kenny and Balou Du Reventon, who knocked the very last fence in the opening round.
In the jump-off, Kenny posted a clear in a very fast time of 37.86 seconds, meaning he won €40,000 for an eventual fourth-place finish.
When entering the arena as last to go in the jump-off, O’Connor knew he needed to go clear in faster than 39.47 seconds to take the winner’s prize. The Irish combination successfully completed the course without blemish, but their time of 40.64 seconds wasn’t fast enough to catch the winners, Israel’s Daniel Bluman and Ladriano Z, who took the €100,000 top prize.
O’Connor’s runner-up spot was worth €80,000, while Belgium’s Oliver Philippaerts finished third with the only other double clear round in 41.73 seconds with H&M Extra.
Speaking afterwards, London 2012 Olympic bronze medallist O’Connor was delighted with how Irenice Horta performed:
“Rome show in Piazza di Sienna is one of those great events steeped in tradition. The imposing grass arena was fantastic to ride in and Irenice enjoyed every minute of it. It’s our first major Grand Prix together and I couldn’t be happier how she performed.”