The Irish riders and the Yageo-Prize, the speed and handiness competition over ditches and banks, go together like a horse and carriage! It is the fourth time in succession that a rider from the green island triumphed in this jumping competition over natural obstacles. And his name is Cian O’Connor for the third time.
“Well, us Irish do love riding fast!”, was how Cian O’Connor summed his recipe for success up in a nutshell. And solid fences? “They are familiar territory!” After all, as a fully-bred Irish citizen, he already flew over hedges and ditches as a child on the hunting field. He won the class in 2016 and 2017 as well as this year. In 2018, he had to bow down to his fellow Irishman, Shane Sweetnam.
The tasks that the riders are faced with in the Yageo-Prize are very similar to those on the hunting field: Walls, bushes and of course the big, open water ditch in the Main Stadium of the Soers. These put the courage of several horses to the test. This wasn’t the case for Cian O’Connor’s KWPN gelding Diego by Colman. O’Connor borrowed the grey horse from his pupil Nicola Pohl especially for this class. A decision that evidently paid off. Even the “Master of Faster” Felix Haßmann and his speedy SL Brazonado didn’t have a chance against O’Conner and Diego, who galloped over the finish line in a time of 57.62. The last to go, Felix Haßmann and SL Brazonado, gave it their best shot, stayed clear but couldn’t match O’Connor’s time: The clock stopped at 60.25 seconds, second place. Jörne Sprehe came third with her Stakkato Gold son, Solero on a time of 60.49 seconds.
There was one rider, who is even more familiar with solid fences than Cian O’Conner, who actually also beat his time: The eventing Olympic gold medallist Sandra Auffarth. The double World Champion of 2014 had saddled her Derby specialist, La Vista, and really did manage to slice two hundredths of a second off Cian O’Connor time. Unfortunately, she took one of the rails with her. Since knocking an obstacle in this competition is penalised with four extra seconds on the clock, Auffarth “only” landed in fourth place with La Vista, who has come second in the Derby twice.
Photo: Libby Law for Equnews