Ireland’s Reserve Rider Shane Sweetnam Takes Cian O’Connor and Kilkenny’s Team Competition Spot After Withdrawal 

Tokyo, Japan – August 4, 2021 – Ireland’s Cian O’Connor has withdrawn from the team competition after his longtime mount Kilkenny had a nosebleed (epistaxis) during the Show Jumping Individual Final on Wednesday at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. The dynamic pair were ranked sixth in the order of go for day two after a clear and quick effort Tuesday during day one of individual competition.

Cian O’Connor and Kilkenny

With the top six horse and rider pairs left to go, O’Connor and Kilkenny galloped their way through the difficult 14-obstacle course Santiago Varela’s (ESP) designed, besting the world’s top showjumping athletes. Halfway through the course, Kilkenny began to have a nosebleed, expressing concern from the bystanders, team members and vets standing by. But, despite the blood dripping from his nose, the 9-year-old Irish-bred gelding powered through the remainder of the course with just a single time fault, showcasing his big heart and determination to keep performing at his best.

Cian O’Connor and Kilkenny

After quickly exiting the ring, Kilkenny was checked by the vets immediately after the competition and, as a precaution was taken to the onsite Veterinary Clinic where he is under further examination. Per FEI Jumping Rules, blood on the flanks or in the horse’s mouth results in elimination; however, equine epistaxis is not a cause for elimination.

O’Connor and the rest of his team have decided that it is in Kilkenny’s best interest to withdraw from the team competition. Teammate Shane Sweetnam and Alejandro, named Ireland’s reserve horse and rider combination, will take over O’Connor’s spot.

O’Connor shared this video with Kilkenny following the vet’s examination.

As athletes gear up for team competition at 6am ET on Friday, Sweetnam and Alejandro will be preparing to substitute in for O’Connor and Kilkenny as the eight nations battle to qualify for the Team Finals. To read about the Individual Final please click here.

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