Austin O’Connor secures first 5* win for Ireland in 58 Years at MARS Maryland

Austin O’Connor (IRL) secured the first CCI5*-L victory by an Irish rider in nearly six decades, jumping up from fourth place at the start of Sunday’s show jumping finale and catapulting to the top of the leaderboard with longtime partner Colorado Blue at the 2023 MARS Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill presented by Brown Advisory. The three-time Olympian sealed the deal to break the longstanding Irish drought with a mistake-free round on Sunday, jumping clear and finishing on a final total score of 34.9.

Five-time British Olympic veteran William Fox-Pitt (GBR) (above) and Grafennacht finished in second place on a final score of 35.3, while World No. 1 Oliver Townend (GBR) (below) and Cooley Rosalent took third place with a 37.1 after dropping two rails during their round to add eight faults to their final score. Hannah Sue Hollberg (USA), was the highest-placing American, finishing fourth on a 40.0.

Colorado Blue, a 2009 Great Britain Sport Horse owned by The Salty Syndicate, has been a consistent staple in O’Connor’s string, having competed in three CCI5*-L events since 2022, as well as at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, and the 2022 FEI Eventing World Championships. The pair were trailblazers around yesterday’s cross-country track, which they navigated with efficiency and grit, tackling all of the difficult combinations, coming in just barely over the time.

“He’s an unbelievable horse. He’s a proper, proper five-star event horse,” said O’Connor, and added, “He always looked a good horse, but I guess a bit like myself, with age he’s just got better. Or lucky. 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.”

Full results can be found here

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