Legendary Sue Davies leaves a lasting legacy on the equestrian world

  • 18 January 2023, 15:45

Sue Davies was not only a stalwart of the Irish equestrian industry, but the global industry, and leaves behind a fantastic and lasting legacy, says Billy Twomey in the wake of her death last week.

The legendary owner of the likes of stallions Luidam (KWPN) and Je t’Aime Flamenco (BWP) as well as top-class mares Anastasia III (OLD) and Tinka’s Serenade (AES), passed away last Friday after a battle with cancer.

Her horses have formed the backbone of many Irish teams, in Show Jumping and Eventing, and the Isle of Man native enjoyed marvellous success with the likes of Twomey, Yasmin Ingham and Austin O’Connor in the saddle.

Twomey finished second on one of Davies’ horses, Chat Botte E.D, in a 1.55m class at the CSI4* in Riyhad at the weekend.  The pair are also part of the Irish squad set to  represent Ireland in the first FEI Longines Nations Cup in Abu Dhabi this Sunday.

Twomey said: “Sue and her husband Eddie were unbelievable supporters of mine, for over 20 years, and without them I wouldn’t have the career I have today.

“But she was always very supportive of Irish teams – what the teams were trying to do and, although some owners would focus on the individual, Sue was always more happy watching her horses competing on Irish teams, even though she was an Isle of Man resident.

“She was unbelievably caring for her horses – she always just wanted the best for them. She’d always come to the yard with treats for the horses and they would always have their heads over the door looking for her!

“It would have been great to have won at the weekend in the Grand Prix in Riyhad – I’d have loved to go one better for her but it was still a good result and she’d have been proud of us.”

Billy Twomey and Tinka’s Serenade with Sue Davies and her husband Eddie at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Kentucky, USA. Picture: Sportsfile

With Twomey in the saddle, Luidam was on the Irish team that won the Nations Cup in Aachen, Germany in 2003. Also that year he was part of Irish team for the Dublin Nations Cup, winner of  the CSIO5* La Baule Grand Prix and helped Ireland to victory in the CSIO5* Nations Cup in St. Gallen, Switzerland.

The following year, named as the reserve for the 2004 Olympics in Athens, came a momentous victory when Luidam and Twomey – as the anchor combination of an Irish team that included Marion Hughes (Heritage Fortunus), Cian O’Connor (Irish Independent Annabella) and Jessica Kurten (Quibell) – jumped the all-important double clear round that secured the home victory in the Aga Khan Trophy at the Dublin Horse Show.

In 2005, Davies’ chestnut mare Anastasia III was key to the Irish performance at the CSIO5* Samsung Super League final that year in Barcelona, ESP. Her contribution was enough to help Ireland secure Super League status for 2006.

At the 2008 Horse of the Year Show in 2008 Davies’ stallion Je t’Aime Flamenco (BWP) was victorious, and in 2009 Twomey and the bay stallion took victory in the CSIO5* Grand Prix of St. Gallen, while also featuring on the Irish Nations Cup teams at the CSIO4* Lummen, CSIO5* Aachen, and in the CSIO5* in Dublin.

2010 saw the pair’s run of form continue with them picking up numerous victories, includingthe Grand Prix classes in   Amsterdam CSI4*, and Barcelona CSIO5*. While 2011 saw them win in the Global Champions Tour Grand Prix in Valencia, Spain. .

However, it was arguably with the chestnut mare Tinka’s Serenade (AES) that Twomey saw his most successful pairing with one of Davies’ horses.

Their international pairing began in 2007 but it was in 2009 where the first glimpses of what was to come were seen when they took the runner up spot in the CSIO4* Grand Prix of Barcelona. .

In 2010, Twomey and Tinka’s Serenade (AES) were part of the winning Irish Nations Cup team in the CSIO4* in Lummen, Belgium. They were on the runner-up team in the Dublin Nations Cup, having been instrumental in securing an Irish victory in the Nations Cup under lights at the CSIO5* in Aachen.

The combination once again excelled and in 2011 they cemented their position as one of the leading combinarions in world show jumping.  They featured  on the CSIO5* Irish Nations Cup teams in Aachen and Dublin and claimed victory in the CSI5* Grand Prix in Basel, Switzerland. They also won the Grand Prix at the CSI5*-W show in Zurich and a famous victory in the IJRC Rolex Top Ten Final in at the CSI5* in Paris.

That trend continued through the following years but the effect of the partnership between Davies and Twomey is not only seen through the results outlined here, but also in their influence of Irish breeders.

Luidam (KWPN) and Je t’Aime Flamenco (BWP) were a popular choice for mare owners and their successful progeny now include horses such as Luibanta BH (ISH), Javas Miss Jordan (ISH), Loughnavatta Indigo (ISH), Ard Ginger Pop (ISH), Mulvin Lui (ISH), and Ard Leaderman (ISH) for Luidam, with WKD Almez Moi (ISH), Classified (ISH), Ballypatrick Flamenco (ISH), Merlins Victoire (ISH), ABC Private Jet (ISH) and Hilton Up The Banner (ISH) representing Je t’Aime Flamenco.

A very special mention must also go to Luidam’s Serenade (AES) and Argentian Lui (AES). Both by Luidam (KWPN) and out of  Tinka’s Serenade and Anastasia III (OLD) respectively. They are bred and owned by Sue Davies herself.

Yasmin Ingham and Sue Davies with Banzai Du Loir, who won gold at the FEI World Eventing Championships in Pratoni last September

On top of her show jumping success, Davies’ horses also competed at the highest level in Eventing, including owning the current FEI Individual Eventing World Champion, Banzai Du Loir (SF). Rider Yasmin Ingham paid tribute to Davies on her Instagram page. Ingham posted: “Very sadly, last Friday one of my biggest supporters, Sue Davies passed away after a long battle with cancer.

“She took a chance on me 9 years ago, a young girl from the Isle of Man with a big dream. She believed in me. Last summer one of our dreams came true. Winning Individual Gold at the World Championships on Sue and her daughter Janette’s horse, Banzai Du Loir. A moment that I will treasure for the rest of my life, seeing Sue cheering me on from the side lines.

“What she has done for the equestrian world speaks for itself. Her horses’ and riders’ achievements have been astounding. I am so proud to have been a part of that.

“Janette and I will continue to work hard towards achieving more of Sue’s dreams. Thank you for everything Sue.”

Everyone at Horse Sport Ireland extends their deepest condolences to the family and friends of Sue Davies. We are sure the whole equestrian community will join us in mourning the life and celebrating the legacy of a remarkable woman.