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O'Connor Fourth At Belfast Grand Prix

BRITAIN again stole the honours at Belfast tonight (Sunday), with Andrew Davies winning the £27,000 Grand Prix prize purse, but Ireland's Cian O'Connor managed a lucrative fourth, and was the only Irish rider to jump a double clear round.

Bryan Henry's taxing course had the near-capacity crowd at Belfast's Odyssey arena holding its collective breath as rider after rider in the first round fell foul of the bogey line from the vertical at Fence No. 6 to the double at No.7. By the time Cian O'Connor arrived to tumultuous applause, only one rider of 15 - Switzerland's Daniel Etter
- had managed to jump clear. Four riders had also retired after racking up multiple errors.

O'Connor, ecouraged by shouts from the crowd, clocked up Ireland's first clear on <Waterford Crystal>, and this seemed to break the spell the next three riders, who also took clears, one of them O'Connor's Nations Cup team-mate Billy Twomey on <Anastasia>.

These proved to be the only two first-round Irish clears in a total field of 33 riders, with the other seven clear rounds being dominated by the British, who had run riot through the card at Belfast since Thursday's opening night.

With a total prize fund of £81,000 at stake, the arena was hushed with tension for the jump-off against the clock on a reduced course of seven fences, with a total of eight jumping elements, including the bogey double on the long side that had cause so much trouble earlier in the Grand Prix..

Britain's Nick Skelton, second-out, set the pace at 34.09, but this was soon outstripped by a lightning-fast round from his fellow-countryman Andrew Davies, who came home in 31.50.

Ireland's Cian O'Connor went for a safer route on <Waterford Crystal> and notched up a classic clear in 38.62, but the second Irish rider, Billy Twomey, had two down.


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International Jumping Competition Table A 2 Rounds 1.60m
FEI Art. 273.3.3
Sunday 30th November 2003

1) LIMBO V; Andrew DAVIES (GBR) Faults 0.00/0.00 Time 31.50
2) ARKO II; Nick SKELTON (GBR) Faults 0.00/0.00 Time 34.09
3) HERMINE IMPERIALE ; Daniel ETTER (SUI) Faults 0.00/0.00 Time 36.67
4) WATERFORD CRYSTAL; Cian O'CONNOR (IRL) Faults 0.00/0.00 Time 38.62

8) ANASTASIA; Billy TWOMEY (IRL) Faujlts 0.00/8.00 Time 35.10

33 starters


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