Breen the Boy with five-star Cato

  • 3 May 2024, 21:11

Cato Boy and Shane Breen (Sportfot)

Lynch and Allen add top-flight podium finishes

Shane Breen bagged a five-star prize at the Royal Windsor Horse Show in England today.

The Tipperary native, riding the ten-year-old gelding Cato Boy, took the spoils in the Pearl Stakes in dramatic circumstances from British rider Matthew Sampson and his athletic Irish Sport Horse Mgh Candy Girl.

A total of 31 combinations registered for the two-phase class in rainy Berkshire and Sampson and his 11-year-old horse, bred in Co Cork by Timothy Kelleher, followed their initial clear round with another faultless effort in a rapid time of 25.80 seconds.

Breen and the Nikki Rutter Giapone-owned Cato Boy were the very next pair into the ring however and having done the necessary in the first phase, they somehow found three hundredths of a second, shaving the minutest amount off Sampson’s time to post 25.77.

Nobody else could threaten that mark, with Lorenzo de Luca (ITA) and Cash du Plessis the best of the rest in third on 27.10 seconds.

“I wasn’t expecting that at all,” said Breen. “I watched Matt Sampson’s round and Cato has such a big stride, you leave out strides on him, but I wasn’t expecting to beat Matt.

“The seven strides to the last fence was long enough but the great thing about this horse is that when you commit, he commits with you. He never thinks, ‘No, this is too far,’ and then not actually take you there. He’s lovely.

“Cato Boy arrived in Dubai as a three-year-old and he was shown to his owner Nikki and he was absolutely the wrong horse for her to buy just because he was far too big, but she absolutely fell in love with him.

“I suggested she send him to my brother Trevor, so he produced him as a six- and seven-year-old. Then I bought out half from Nikki so we owned him together and he moved from Trevor to my yard two years ago and I’ve been trying to keep producing him since.

“He’s a lovely character, he’s a bit playful and he bounces around with me sometimes, but it’s nice that he’s enjoying himself.

“I had Cato Boy in Arezzo for three weeks, he jumped very well down there. He’s in great form this year. He’s ten now and he’s maturing, he’s giving me a really good feeling.

“He’s very fresh, which is a good way to have them, so now it’s just a case of getting a bit more experience in a few more rings, just to get him crafty in the ring.

“It’s great to be here in Windsor, it’s a fantastic show. To open our account with a win is always good, we just have to hope for a couple more wins!”

Two other Irish riders finished on the podium in separate five-star classes on the Longines Global Champions Tour in Shanghai.

Breen’s fellow Tipp man, Denis Lynch has had his string in good form on the LGCT recently and he finished third with Cordial in today’s two-phase 1.45m class.

Cordial had helped Lynch secure a double five-star success in Mexico City three weeks ago and the 15-year-old was on form once again, going clear and clocking a time of 36.13 seconds to trail only Jodie Hall McAteer (GBR) and Kimosa van het Kritrahof, and Pius Schwizer (SUI), riding Chill Ma.

The other five-star class on the programme today was a speed contest, which was won by French pilot Julien Anquetin on board Farah Tame. Gilles Thomas (BEL) was third thanks to his combined efforts with Feromas van Beek Z, while young Wexford athlete, Harry Allen was third on 13-year-old gelding Lukaku vd Bisschop.

The Irish rider’s time of 64.24 was an agonising one hundredth of a second shy of the runner-up, and not far off the winning standard of 63.86.



MGH Candy Girl (ISH) – 2013 mare by Sligo Candy Boy (ISH) out of Kilnamac Holly (ISH)[TIH] by Cruising (ISH)[TIH]. Breeder: Timothy Kelleher, Co. Cork. Owner: Isabel Fox. Rider: Matthew SAmpson (GBR)