As teenager Billy “the Kid” Loughnane caps his incredible first year racing with the champion apprentice title, H&H caught up with the 17-year-old to find out more about this high flyer who deserves to be on your radar…
1. Horses have been part of Billy’s life for as long as he can remember. “I started on rocking horses, then ponies pretty much as soon as I could walk and speak,” says Billy, who was speaking at a Great British Racing event ahead of Qipco British Champions Day (21 October) at Ascot, where he will receive the champion apprentice trophy. “I started showjumping when I was about nine or 10, and did that until I was 13.”
2. He has always wanted to be a jockey. “The first time I sat on a racehorse I was probably about two years old, I used to sit on them on the way back from the gallops while someone held on to them. But the first time I cantered a racehorse I was about 10,” says Billy.
3. Billy, whose father Mark trains from his Worcestershire base, caught the race-riding bug through pony racing. “I’ve always been very competitive in everything I’ve done – I’ve always wanted to be the best,” he says. “I won my first pony race, so straight away I had the feeling for a winner. From there on, I just wanted more and more winners. ”
4. His first racing hero was Sir AP McCoy, and as Billy became more invested in Flat racing, Tom Marquand became another hero. As a tall jockey, he also tries to emulate the riding styles of James Doyle and Richard Hughes.
5. He rode his first winner less than a year ago – Swiss Rowe, trained by his father, at Wolverhampton on 28 November 2022. Since then, he has notched up more than 100 victories.
6. Billy was too young to drive when his career first kicked off. He’s since passed his test and remembers Aidan Keeley as giving him plenty of lifts before he got his own set of wheels.
7. The teenage wonder rode out his claim in September at Kempton – less than 11 months from his first ride – and would likely have got there sooner had he not spent three weeks on the sidelines after breaking his thumb in the starting stalls.
8. One of his major first season highlights was riding his first winner for Godolphin, when the Charlie Appleby-trained Sapphire Seas won by a nose at Wolverhampton in January.
9. He already has his sights set on his next big goals. “I’m staying around for the winter, so I’d love to have a crack at the all-weather title. Next year, I’d love to get 100 winners again, in the season and first year without a claim. And if I can, maybe a listed winner on the board as well.”
10. Billy credits his dad and former jockey Stephen Davies, who is Mark’s assistant trainer, for his education in the saddle. “Dad taught me how to ride most of the way – obviously I had lessons with showjumping as well – and Stephen helped me a lot when I switched to racehorses.”
11. His favourite horse is the six-year-old Daheer, trained by Mark for The Likely Lads. “I used to ride him every day when I was there, from when I was about 13, so he’d be right up there as one of my favourites.”
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