INTERNATIONAL show jumping kicked off at the five-star Royal Windsor Horse Show in Berkshire in the UK last Friday and Tipperary’s Shane Breen was quick off the mark, winning the first class, the CSI5* 1.45m Two-phase Pearl Stakes with Cato Boy, by the narrowest of margins!

Out of 31 starters, an impressive 29 jumped clear in the first round; 25 managed to keep all the fences standing in the second round, so time was very much the deciding factor. Breen and 10-year-old brown gelding Cato Boy (Commissario x Böckmann’S Lord Pezi), owned by Nikki Rutter Giapone, rode a speedy round against the clock, finishing in 25.77 seconds, a mere three-hundredths of a second ahead of British runner-up Matthew Sampson riding Irish Sport Horse mare MGH Candy Girl (25.80). The third place on the podium went to Italy’s Lorenzo de Luca on Cash du Plessis in a slightly slower time of 27.10 seconds. Britain’s Oliver Fletcher rode the Irish Sport Horse BP Pocahontas, bred by Greg Broderick, to finish fourth.


“I wasn’t expecting that at all,” said Breen following his win. “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 10 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,” Breen continued.

“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!”

Matthew Sampson riding MGH Candy Girl (ISH), winners of the CSI5* Defender Challenge Stakes at Royal Windsor Horse Show \ RoyalWindsorHorseShow/ Peter Nixon


Irish-bred success continued, when Saturday morning’s 1.50m Two Round Defender Challenge Stakes was won by Sampson riding the very talented MGH Candy Girl, with Trevor Breen taking eighth place with the 10-year-old bay mare Jicarla T.

Of the 26 starters, only three jumped clear in the first round and they all managed to do so again in the second. Sampson was the fastest in 33.66 seconds, just a fraction ahead of USA’s Laura Kraut in 33.70 in second on board Calgary Tame, followed by Harrie Smolders (NED) on Monaco NOP in third (38.17).

MGH Candy Girl (ISH) is an 11-year-old mare by Sligo Candy Boy (ISH) out of Kilnamac Holly (ISH)[TIH] by Cruising (ISH)[TIH], bred by Timothy Kelleher in Co Cork.

Later on Saturday, the 1.55m Kingdom of Bahrain Stakes for The King’s Cup saw Trevor Breen finish sixth on Luidam’s Warrior, followed by Daniel Coyle on Legacy in eighth.