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‘I look for all the raw materials’: Billy Twomey picks out his horses of a lifetime

Irish showjumper Billy Twomey has won some of the highest accolades in the sport, from the Rolex Top Ten Final to a hat-trick of grands prix wins at CSI4* Liverpool. But none of this success came without a phenomenal string of horses and in a recent webinar for British Breeding in association with Stallion AI Services, Billy picked out just a few of his all-time greats.

When it comes to sourcing future talent he says: “I look for all the raw materials – they need to have a good temperament and be careful — they need to be almost scared of the fences, they need to be that careful these days — and obviously if they have the scope to get over the big jumps, that’s important too. But a lot of horses can develop that with the right training and the right production — as long as they’re fighters for you in the ring.”

1. Anastasia: the mare who ended up really successful

A chestnut mare by Argentinus with whom Billy won some good classes including the CSI3* in St Tropez in 2007 and on the Spanish Sunshine Tour in 2006.

“I worked for Michael Whitaker for four years, then I met my long-time owners Sue and Eddie Davies and I eventually moved to Cheshire with them,” says Billy. “There I managed to get some really good horses in Conquest and Anastasia. Anastasia was the first of the Davies’ purchases for me and she ended up really successful.”

2. Tinka’s Serenade: the mare who won and won

Now aged 23 and producing some tremendous offspring, this chestnut daughter of Tinka’s Boy x African Drum took Billy to two championships, major grands prix wins and to success on Nations Cup teams.

“On the back of those two horses, Sue and Eddie purchased Luidam then Tinka’s Serenade,” says Billy. “She took me to the Olympics in London then WEG in Kentucky where she finished 10th. But honestly she took some time to get going in the beginning – I think it was about a year it took for me to find the key to her, as it were. But when I got her, she won and won and won. She was hugely successful, winning grands prix all over the world, and was consistent in a lot of championships.”

3. Luidam: the clear round machine

The Guidam stallion, who died three years ago at the age of 24, won the CSI5* grand prix in La Baule and was part of the winning Irish Nations Cup team in Aachen in 2010.

“Luidam was my first special, special horse the Davieses had bought for me,” says Billy. “He was a horse you could count on – he was a clear round machine. Again he was very successful, he won the grands prix in La Baule, he won Nations Cup in Aachen, St Gallen and Dublin. He had a super temperament as well. He’s left a legacy in his youngstock and he really stamps his stock – that bouncing and bucking when he lands.

“It wasn’t all plain sailing though — the day after he arrived at the Davies’ farm, I told the groom Robbie Jennings to build a course in the sand arena, but he hadn’t measured the distance of the double correctly, so I came into this one-stride double and instead of it being 7.5m, it was about 5m, so he bounced it and ended up getting confused and had a bit of a crash and driving me head first into the sand. I remember Robbie coming running over to me and asking me if I was alright and I said ‘Don’t mind me, just get the horse, quick!’ I was far more concerned about the horse!”

4. Je T’Aime Flamenco: the stallion with mind-blowing talent

The 20-year-old Belgian-bred stallion enjoyed outstanding career with Billy, winning seven grands prix and competing in the European Championships. He now stands with Stallion AI Services in Cheshire and Tullis Matson remembers Billy saying to him seven or eight years ago: “This is a stallion for the future.”

“He was super talented,” says Billy. “I bought him when he was five years of age and I remember the day I tried him, it was just mind-blowing how talented he was that day. He won a lot – the Belfast grand prix, Horse of the Year Show grand prix – he won everywhere. He was really prolific for me. The horse I ride now, Kimba Flamenco, is by Je T’Aime and is a real star. He won his first grand prix when he was eight years of age, so quite early. He was very mature, he wasn’t a spooky horse or a difficult horse.”

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5. Chat Botte ED: a beautiful, mega-talented stallion

This striking chestnut 11-year-old stallion (Casall x Darco) came from Dutch rider Jonny Pals in 2018 and has some good five-star wins under his belt with Billy. He is known as Eddie at home.

“He’s a beautiful looking stallion, as are his youngstock actually – talk about stamping stock, I saw 10 or 15 of his foals and yearlings and they look really like him and they all get this little bit of white everywhere just like him,” says Billy. “He’s a mega-talented horse, a little tricky to ride but I think he’s coming my way and hopefully he can go from strength to strength when we get back competing. But he’s already had very good results — he was second in Ascona five-star grand prix, he won in Dinard and had a good result in Gijon in the Nations Cup. He’s getting there with me, we’re just trying to build a relationship with him. It depends how Covid works out, but I’ll be getting him up to speed and finding out where the shows will be.”

> With thanks to British Breeding and to Stallion AI for the webinar.

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