Getting to know: Limerick jockey Billy Lee

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Getting to know: Limerick jockey Billy Lee

NAME: Billy Lee

What was your childhood ambition?

To become a top jump jockey

Growing up, who was your sporting hero?

I used to love watching Conor O’Dwyer and Charlie Swan riding when I went racing.

Do you have a mentor?

I did my apprenticeship with Tommy Stack in Tipperary and he taught me so much. My mam is always good for advice too.

What or where is your happy place?

I love chilling out and binge-watching shows on Netflix when I get the chance

What sparked your love of racing?

We had horses at home so was always around them

What horse put you on the map?

Fiesolana. We won the Group 1 Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes at the inaugural Longines Irish Champions Weekend at Leopardstown in 2014

Who is your favourite horse?

I have been very lucky to ride some good horses so it’s hard to pick a favourite one. Fiesolana, Romanised, Katla, Agnes Stewart, Decrypt, Zorija Rose and Jalmira to name a few…….

What was it like to ride in your first race?

It was at the Galway Festival for Tommy Stack on a horse called Zeno. I was a bit nervous but luckily the horse looked after me well

How long does it take to learn race-riding tactics?

It takes a while to learn race tactics and it’s important to watch the best jockeys growing up

Describe the feeling of riding your first winner?

Zeno obliged again at Sligo Racecourse in August 2002. I was on cloud nine for few days, it was brilliant

What is your most memorable racing moment?

Winning the Group 2 in Doncaster on Agnes Stewart for Eddie Lynam on Friday and then winning Group 1 Coolmore Fasnet Rock Matron Stakes the next day on Fiesolana for Willie McCreery at Leopardstown at the first Longines Irish Champions Weekend in 2014.

What is your favourite racecourse in Ireland?

Cork Racecourse. It has been very good to me

If you weren’t a jockey what would you be?

I’m not too sure! I only ever had horses on my mind since I was a kid

If you could ride one horse, what would it be?

To ride Istabraq would have been a dream

How do you cope with pressure?

I do a lot of sweating, so I don’t get much time to over think things and feel pressure

What mental preparation do you do for the big days?

I study the form a lot!

How do you stay motivated?

Being a jockey has been my dream for as long as I can remember so anytime I feel low I remember how lucky I am to be living my dream

How do you deal with dips in form?

I just say to myself tomorrow is another day

Outside of racing, what is your favourite sporting moment?

Limerick winning the All Ireland in 2018. My dad had died in April of that year and he was a big follower of Limerick hurling, so it meant a great deal more

Can you give us a Netflix/TV recommendation?

Brooklyn Nine-Nine. It is a funny show

What is your guilty pleasure?

Listening to the Greatest Showman soundtrack

Desert island discs – name your favourite three songs?

The Pretender - Foo Fighters

The Cranberries – Zombie

The Killers - Mr Brightside

What person do you admire the most and why?

My mam. She kept us all going through the hard times

Favourite dinner?

Steak and chips

Where is your favourite place to go on holidays?

I like going on holidays around Ireland especially the west coast

What ambitions do you still have?

To be champion jockey

What is the hidden gem of your home county?

Knockfierna - You can see five counties from it

When you think of your home what immediately springs to mind?

Horses

How are you occupying your time during the Covid-19 restrictions?

We have a farm so there is always work to be done

If you had one piece of advice for everyone during these worrying times of Covid-19, what would it be?

Keep the chin up hopefully this will all be over soon

If you were to go back to when you were 20 years old and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?

Travel more

Favourite saying/quote?

Tomorrow is another day