IRISH international event rider Austin O'Connor was "very pleased" with his performance at the 2007 Mitsubishi Motors Badminton three-day event on the Duke of Beaufort's Gloucestershire parkland.

The four-star event was dogged with problems as 22 riders decided to pull their horses out after dressage.

World and European champion Zara Phillips and previous double Badminton winner Mary King were among those concerned about the firm going on the renowned cross-country course.

But O'Connor, based at the Lincomb Equestrian Centre on the outskirts of Stourport, continued his challenge on Badminton debutante Hobby Du Mee in good style, finishing 21st overall.

"The horse did a 53 mark dressage test in the opening phase, which was very good for his first four-star event," O'Connor said.

"He coped with the atmosphere well - it is truly a different ball game at Badminton. He was a bit green and tight in the arena but we both learned a lot."

The pair then jumped a fine clear cross-country, coming home with 10 time penalties over one of the most feared courses in the world.

"Half-way round I forgot about my watch and just concentrated on getting him to enjoy jumping round," O'Connor said.

"He gave me a great ride and it's another stepping stone for him, hopefully the first of many. The ground was obviously firm enough but it didn't ride too bad and the horses trotted up as well as ever the next day."

The pair had just one fence down in the final show jumping phase, at the last part of the combination close to home, but the Worcestershire rider was again more than happy with the display.

"Hobby Du Mee is 12 but still relatively inexperienced and this will have set him up for the future," O'Connor, who rides the horse for Isle of Man owners Sue and Eddie Davies, added.

"He's come out of the event really fit and well and we will now be looking to the future."

That future may well include a place in the Irish three-day event team at the Beijing Olympics if the pair, who were the highest-placed Irish combination at the event, continues to go well.