Billy Lee Q&A: 'Anytime I feel low I remember how lucky I am to be living my dream'

We talk to jockey Billy Lee about his sporting life.
Billy Lee Q&A: 'Anytime I feel low I remember how lucky I am to be living my dream'

Q: What was your childhood ambition?

A: To become a top jump jockey.

Q: Growing up, who was your sporting hero?

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

Q: Do you have a mentor?

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

Q: What or where is your happy place?

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

Q: What sparked your love of racing?

A: We had horses at home so was always around them.

Q: What horse put you on the map?

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

Q: Who is your favourite horse?

A: 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…….

Q: What was it like to ride in your first race?

A: 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.

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

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

Q: Describe the feeling of riding your first winner?

A: Zeno obliged again at Sligo Racecourse in August 2002. I was on cloud nine for a few days.

Q: What is your most memorable racing moment?

A: 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.

Q: What is your favourite racecourse in Ireland?

A: Cork Racecourse has been very good to me.

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

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

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

A: To ride Istabraq would have been a dream.

Q: How do you cope with pressure?

A: I do a lot of sweating, so I don’t get much time to overthink things and feel pressure.

Q: What mental preparation do you do for the big days?

A: I study form a lot!.

Q: How do you stay motivated?

A: Being a jockey has been my dream so anytime I feel low I remember how lucky I am to be living my dream.

Q: How do you deal with dips in form?

A: I just say to myself tomorrow is another day.

Q: Outside of racing, what is your favourite sporting moment?

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

Q: Can you give us a Netflix/TV recommendation?

A: Brooklyn Nine-Nine. It is a funny show.

Q: What is your guilty pleasure?

A: Listening to the Greatest Showman soundtrack.

Q: Desert island discs – name your favourite three songs?

A: The Pretender - Foo Fighters; The Cranberries – Zombie; The Killers - Mr Brightside.

Q: What person do you admire the most and why?

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

Q: Favourite dinner?

A: Steak and chips.

Q: Where is your favourite place to go on holidays?

A: I like going on holidays around Ireland especially the west coast.

Q: What ambitions do you still have?

A: To be champion jockey.

Q: What is the hidden gem of your home county?

A: Knockfierna - You can see five counties from it.

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

A: Horses.

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

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

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

A: Keep the chin up hopefully this will all be over soon.

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

A: Travel more.

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