billy ijrc trophyWhile family roots are deeply entrenched in his native homeland - and Billy recalls a multitude of memories and victories in and around Cork - the talented rider crossed the Irish Sea to seek more experience. Training with Albert Voorn in Holland preceded a stint with Jason and Katrina Moore in Essex. His success on the national circuit did not go unnoticed and before too long, the popular rider landed a dream job, as stable jockey to Michael Whitaker "I was always striving to better myself. To me, Michael was the greatest rider in the world and I wanted to be like him," said Billy.

With the advantage of top horses to ride and compete, it did not take long for him to stand on his own two feet. Attracting outside rides on his own merit. Billy rented a yard from Marilyn Anstee, in Saxby. Leicestershire, and then, with the help and support of Sue and Eddie Davies and Simon Paul, he settled into the Davies's ultra modern yard at Pewit Hall, Nantwich, Cheshire. Billy certainly had a good grounding from a very early age. His mother Jill, and aunt ran a riding school near Cork, his uncle Kelvin (Hitchmough) was a leading national hunt trainer who can boast sending out an Irish Grand National winner, his Aunt Avril was a well known show jumping trainer, and his grandmother officiated on the appeals committee for major shows.

From an inauspicious start at Ballincollig gymkhana, where his pony bolted with him, the determined nine-year-old persevered, and Billy actually won the 128cms championship at Royal Dublin with the same pony. National 138 and 148cms titles followed and his favourite ponies Merry Colleen and Hunter's Folly achieved international success.
"I was also enjoying riding work on the beach for my uncle and I did have designs on becoming a jockey, but once I had tasted success on the show jumping circuit, I wanted it to be my career," said Billy.

To ease the transition on to horses, Billy took the promising young riders horse Prima Donna to train with Albert Voorn, in Holland. Whilst there, Billy was offered a job in Switzerland but he yearned to compete in England so he re-crossed the English Channel to base himself at the Essex yard of renowned pony trainers Jason and Katrina Moore, who found Billy extra rides.
County and national successes preceded an international victory in the grand prix at Rheims riding the Ockendon-Day family's Clover Chief, who was also placed in the prestigious King George V Gold Cup.

With an insatiable thirst for more experience, Billy approached Michael Whitaker. The talented teenager initially travelled to Michael's Nottinghamshire yard to train with him. "By hook or by crook, I wanted to work at the yard full time and staying on there was the best decision I ever made. Michael is a brilliant teacher and I can't put a value on the experience I gained with him."

Early rides for Billy included Imata a Newcomers finalist and Huntingtown who gained grand prix wins at Essex and Bramham and gave Billy his first ride in the Hickstead Derby, BSJA Festival and Horse of the Year Show. More successes followed with Graham and Gary Gillespie's Conquest, a much-admired stallion and the talented mare Anastasia.
With owners approaching him with fresh rides, and sponsorship, Billy made the brave decision to branch out on his own with partner Joanne. "Naturally, I was apprehensive about moving but Michael has been so supportive. If I need any help, such as riding a tricky distance, I know I can turn to Michael for advice, even though we may be on opposing sides of a Nations Cup (team competition)." Through Marilyn Anstee, Billy was introduced to his present sponsor Sue Davies, who bought Anastasia from the Gillespies.

The pair had a fantastic season in 2002, and to strengthen Billy's string, still further in 2004, Sue bought John Popeley's top ride Luidam, a stallion widely acclaimed as having European Championship and Olympic potential.
Billy and Luidam soon forged a winning partnership. Runners-up at the inaugural British Open Championships, and Mauberge, the pair won the Grand Prix at La Baule, were on Ireland's winning Nations Cup team at St Gallen and Aachen, and at the 2003 European Championships, Billy and Luidam helped Ireland secure Olympic qualification.

In 2005 Luidam retired to stud after many International success’s and is currently serving in excess of 200 mares a year based in Ireland at Rockmount AI Centre. His young stock are now at an age where he is being represented on the International stage at the highest levels and include such prolific winners as Blue Angel with Kent Farrington. During this year, Billy purchased an outstanding 5 year old who was the talking horse of the young horse classes that season, called Je T'aime Flamenco.

In 2007 Billy married his long term partner Joanne and later that year their first child Lily was born. Sue and Ed Davies purchased the brilliant grey stallion Pikap for Billy to ride with the London Olympics in 2012 in mind. The stallion was one of the most admired young horses on the international circuit. Paul Shockemohle was repeatedly turning down offers for the stallion who he rated as one of the best in the world. Sue and Ed succeeded in purchasing the stallion and he performed brilliantly and progressed well through the grades, matching all expectations. Je T’aime Flamenco was also exceeding all expectations, being highly placed or wining in all the major 7 year old championships that year.

In 2008, Anastasia was retired to the breeding program and has since produced a beautiful foal to Luidam.
In a tragic accident at Grobbendonk in Germany, Pikap was killed. Unfortunately on take off to a fence in the main arena at the event, Pikap broke his leg; he was sadly put to sleep in the arena to prevent him suffering any pain. Billy suffered multiple injuries in the accident including a broken leg, broken ribs and head injuries, as the horse took off at the fence and could not land properly, so Billy ended up being trapped underneath the horse for a while. Billy and the Davies family were devastated by the loss of their brilliant, brave, young horse.

The accident meant Billy was out of competition for 6 months during the summer of 2008. The recuperation from his injuries meant he did not return to the competition arena till October of that year. Whilst in recuperation, Billy and Joanne’s second daughter Evie was born.

Billy returned to competition at the Horse of the year Show in 2008. A dreadful year turned around when Billy won six classes including the highlight of the show, the Grand Prix on Je T’aime Flamenco.

Sue and Ed Davies purchased a new horse for Billy, Blue Thunder after he won the Horse and Hound Foxhunter Championship with Billy on board, for another owner, the purchase added strength and depth to their team of young horses.

After rounding of 2008 with winning the Belfast International Horse Show Grand Prix on Je T’aime Flamenco, 2009 started on great form for Billy with winning the International Grand Prix in Amsterdam which he then went on to win back to back victories, winning in 2010 as well.

With major wins in Barcelona and Aachen and an addition to the Twomey family, a son called George 2010, was definitely a memorable year.

With Je T’aime Flamenco performing so consistently and with London 2012 looming on the horizon, the Davies made the decision that they would purchase Je T’aime Flamenco from Billy, to give them the best opportunity of having a horse performing on the Olympic stage in London 2012.

2011 included memorable wins in Valencia, Zurich and Basel, a good performance at the European Championships in Madrid. The highlight of the year was winning the Rolex Top Ten Final at the Gucci Paris Master show. Billy was voted Irish International Rider of the Year to round of a spectacular year.

In 2011 Billy’s new base at Springfield Farm, Nottingham was completed, a new purpose built training and competition yard and now the team are operating across two the two bases.

2012 saw Billy selected to ride for Ireland at the London Olympic Games. This was Billy’s first Olympic selection and a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Only inspiring him to hope for better results in Rio 2016. This year also included wins at the Grand Palais in Paris and Horse of the Year Show in Birmingham. Billy represented Ireland on four Nations Cup teams amongst other notable highlights.

2013 was notable for the fact that Billy represented Ireland on the Nations Cup Final in Barcelona winning a Bronze medal and had notable wins in Dublin at the Royal International and at HOYS he won The Leading Show Jumper of the Year. Other notable wins include the British Master Grand Prix and representing Ireland on four Nations Cup Teams.

2014 began well with Billy qualifying for the World Cup Final in Lyon. He followed this up with International notable wins at Millstreet, Keysoe, Lummen and two wins at HOYS. His focus this year was current focus is the World Cup Final in Las Vegas next year and the European Championships in 2015
His string for this year comprized Currently Billy's main string is Tinka's Serenade, Diaghilev, Royal Du Rouet, Aminko, Codarco, Pewit Oitimo, Arkol and Animore Louis all backed up by a lovely string of young horses.

2015 began with with major wins in Basel and Zurich and towards the end of the year Billy had an amazing Horse of The Year Show with 3 winds within a week.

2016 Billy was a winner from the of with a major win at the inaugural Liverpool International Grand Prix, form which continued throughout the year.