Cian O'Connor rejects allegation of abusing horse in Dublin Horse show


International showjumper Cian O'Connor last night declared that allegations of cruelty made against him in a newspaper report were "totally untrue".

"I categorically reject an allegation made in a Sunday paper indicating that I abused a horse in the Dublin Horse Show two years ago," O'Connor said in a statement issued last night. "This story is totally untrue."

It is believed that O'Connor, who went on holiday after the Dublin show and is due back on Wednesday, spoke yesterday to Jean-Maurice Bonneau, the French chef d'equipe who is reported to have made the allegations.

In his statement, O'Connor says: "I have learned that Jean-Maurice Bonneau, the French chef d'equipe, who is implicated in this story, has never made such an allegation nor has he any basis for such an allegation. My legal advisers will be vigorously pursuing this matter this week."

The newspaper report claimed that Bonneau would be filing an official complaint to the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) about an alleged incident at the Dublin Horse Show two years ago involving O'Connor.

The Irish federation yesterday issued a statement, saying it was "unaware of any complaints of cruelty to horses involving Irish riders, currently before the world governing body, the FEI". The federation added that it "unreservedly condemns any practices which involve cruelty to horses".

Bonneau was unavailable for comment when contacted last night, but he told The Irish Times last Monday that he had spoken to Irish chef d'equipe Eamonn Rice about an incident allegedly involving one of the Army horses in Dublin on this year's final day.

An Army spokesman refuted the allegations of cruelty, but acknowledged that there had been "an incident" when a groom had been kicked and two other grooms had gone into the stable to assist. No official complaint was lodged about the incident.