Equestrian score for Cooroy rider
IT HAS been a long road to the top for Cooroy's 38-year-old Billy Raymont.
A successful overseas campaign in Hong Kong and Europe qualified him for the World Equestrian Games in Tryon, South Carolina.
Hurricane Florence threatened to decimate these Games, but petered out, and the sun shone on our Australia team.
In the three rounds of the showjumping teams competition, he and his horse Oaks Redwood (Baz to his mates) did the Australian team proud, especially in the final round.
In the first speed round Baz pulled a rail, but did a scorching round to finish 20th out of 124 the world's best riders. His team mate, UK-based Rowan Willis, finished this round in 3rd place. Billy and his friend Jamie Kermond were the only Australian-based riders in the team. Jamie came in 22nd in this round. The fourth rider, US-based Scott Keach, was 34th.
Billy and Baz have captured the imagination of the locals, and, by the roar of the crowd, are proving as popular as the US combinations.
After this round the team was placed sixth, ahead of Ireland, Great Britain, France and Canada.
In the 2014 World Equestrian Games, France placed second, and Australia placed 17th.
This is a massive improvement, and the best Games result, that Australia has ever achieved.
It is unusual for Australia to have Australian-based riders in their teams. The reason that we have been able to do this is because the standard of our Australian competitions has improved enormously.
A big factor in Billy's success has been the consistent high level of competition provided at our local Sunshine Coast Showjumping Club, largely due to the great organisational efforts of Billy's parents Paul and Sue, with Paul designing and constructing challenging, high courses, and Sue organising the competitors.
Brother Jamie, another professional show jumper, has been heavily involved in recent years, and has been a constant support to Billy, often travelling the show circuit with him, and likewise doing it tough at the end of the run when the winnings have not yet been paid.
Showjumping had become a sport for the very wealthy, with sheiks and princesses, and the children of billionaires partaking.
However, up against all this money Billy has, with true dedication, determination and persistence, shown he can take his place with the world's best.