Tokyo may be on hold, but Jennifer Donald can’t wait for the return of Billy Twomey’s Olympic shortlisted gelding, described by his owner as a “studious librarian”
Breeding: AES, by Je T’Aime Flamenco out of Uttah Van Het Indihof (Heartbreaker)
Owner/breeder: Kim Barzilay
Producer: Emma-Jo Slater
Rider: Billy Twomey
Greatest achievements: won the CSI4* grand prix at Liverpool (2019), the CSIO5* Longines Falsterbo grand prix in Sweden (2018), the CSI4* grand prix on the Spanish Sunshine Tour (2018) and the national grade C championship (2016)
Owner/breeder Kim Barzilay
“When my rider Emma-Jo Slater was pregnant, it seemed a good time to put our great mare Uttah Van Het Indihof in foal and Billy Twomey suggested Je T’Aime Flamenco. He gets his name from being born at my Kimba Farm Stud, by Flamenco, and at home he’s known as Codi, from FlamenCO and InDI.
“Emma does a fantastic job teaching the young horses the ropes and we knew Codi was special from his first couple of shows – he didn’t want to touch any fences. He’s a bit like a librarian – he always seems quite studious, so if he thought he’d done something wrong in the ring, he’d probably go home and Google it to see how he could have done it better.
“Billy had already had his London 2012 ride Tinka’s Serenade and King George V Gold Cup winner Lizziemary from me and he got in touch to say, ‘I hear your horse is going well!’ The idea was possibly that he would be sold, but we were enjoying ourselves so much I decided we should actually do the VIP bit at these nice shows and it’s been wonderful.
“Of course, there are days when he has a pole or a time-fault and you think, ‘Why am I doing this? This horse is worth a lot of money and probably ought to be sold,’ but seeing him win the Falsterbo grand prix was the proudest moment.
“Receiving the letter in January that we’d been shortlisted for the Olympics with our home-bred was a dream come true – who knows whether he’ll actually go, but that was the start of the dream.”
Rider Billy Twomey
“Kim and I have a 15 to 20 year connection, starting with Tinka’s Serenade, then Lizziemary, so anything special she has, she tends to earmark for me. Codi had been winning with Emma-Jo up to 1.30m/1.40m as a seven-year-old so there was obviously potential there and he was always winning – his results were excellent.
“He’s a super-careful horse, who doesn’t want to knock down the fences and when you’re clear in a grand prix, you know you have a good chance of winning because he’s so competitive and naturally very quick. He is completely easy just like his sire, who I also rode, but in another way he’s very sensitive to handle – the nicer you are to him, the nicer he is to you.
“He’s always been super-brave – he grows into himself in the big grass rings and he’s never been bothered by water jumps or any other unusual fences, so it’s just been about giving him experience at the higher level. We’re in funny old times, but the Olympics is still the ultimate goal.”
Producer Emma-Jo Slater
“I felt so proud to watch Billy ride Codi to second place in the five-star grand prix in Wellington, Florida, before lockdown. It was so exciting – I had goosebumps. Billy’s polished him up a bit of course, but he still looked like the same old Codi.
“He’s always been such an easy horse – he was good to break-in and all through his novice classes, he just seemed to jump double clears so easily. With some horses you feel a bit worried about stepping up a level, but never with him.
“The only thing he didn’t like was being clipped – he’s a bit sensitive just like his mum, you couldn’t use a hard brush on her at all.
“Qualifying for the Foxhunter final at HOYS in 2016 was a real stand-out moment.”
Ref Horse & Hound; 9 July 2020