An emotional Cian O'Connor dedicated victory to his late mother after he won the Leading Showjumper of the Year Grand Prix on the final night of the Horse of the Year Show at Birmingham's NEC.
Irish star Cian, individual bronze medallist at the London Olympics four years ago, guided Super Sox (Salito x Silvio I) home and claimed a top prize of £13,200 in a thrilling jump-off.
Cian prevailed by just four hundredths of a second from runner-up John Whitaker, on his Rio Olympics ride Ornellaia (For Pleasure x Calato), while Robert Bevis and Courtney Z (Chellano Z x Major de la Cour) finished third.
"I am delighted," Cian said. "This is a very prestigious Grand Prix, so it is one I have always wanted to get my hands on."
"I was going for a walk this morning, and I thought back to my last time here two years ago, and I had to leave here after the second day because I got the very sad news that my mum had passed away."
"My mum was always the type of person who would do anything for you, and I just thought I am going to win that Grand Prix tonight, and if I do, I will dedicate it to my mum."
"There are certain shows that you want to go well at during the year, and this is one of them."
"Super Sox is an extraordinary horse. I train the American rider that owns him, and my job is also to manage her horses and I keep them ticking over, but the last time I jumped Sox in the ring was Olympia last December."
John, meanwehile, received a rapturous reception from his adoring British audience as the 61-year-old Yorkshireman displayed his trademark world-class quality.
"Ornellaia did everything I asked, and you have got to be pleased with that," he said. "And when you get a huge welcome like that if lifts you and gives you confidence to fight for it."
"I am having a couple of weeks off now, then I have got the Global Tour final in Doha and the World Cup qualifier in Lyon. It's a couple of quiet weeks now, then back on the road again."
"The Olympics didn't work out for me or the (Great Britain) team, really, and Nick (Skelton) saved the day by winning individual gold, but the rest of the year has been good. I am still up there, and on my day, I can win."
Source: Press release from Horse of the Year Show Press Office // Picture © Julian Portch
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