'Tiggy, realising she’d been summarily dismissed, watched as he sprung lightly into the saddle. He was all man, was Billy. She didn’t care what people said about him, or what they used to say. He had a heart of gold and was so demanding and authoritative it made her go weak at the knees. Literally.'
I grew up with an obsession for anything equine: horse, ponies, books, pictures. If there was anything on the TV with the remotest hint of ‘horse’ I was there. The most tenuous link, the merest whiff of eau de pony - and of course the riders (predominantly fit men) had a certain appeal….
Back then show jumping was big in this country, and often televised, and so one of my earliest crushes was a sporting idol to many, the former British show jumping champion Harvey Smith.
Harvey was one of a kind, a blunt Yorkshireman with a broad accent who had a special knack with horses. He was controversial, he was different. And he had a style all of his own. (That's him in the photo, tackling the famous bank at Hickstead.)
When I was looking for a father for Lottie, the idea of a down to earth, blunt character who is soft in the centre was exactly what I pictured - and Harvey was my starting point.
So, my own dear Billy Brinkley is more of a Mr Smith than a Rupert Campbell Black (a great character in Jilly Cooper novels). He’s unique, initially inspired by Harvey, but layered with bits of the many of the other show jumpers I grew up admiring (and ogling), and some of the riders I know now. And his reputation, and all the naughty bits, and all the sad bits, are entirely of my own making!
Billy is blunt and determined, a bit of a showman, and totally devoted to his daughter and his work (although he tries not to show it). He’s loveable and fun, and he should have grown out of behaving badly – but some people never do. And, he might be broadening around the girth, and his curly hair not as thick as it was, but the ladies still love him.
After losing one love, Billy is only out to have fun – or is one particular admirer of his right, does the man need a new grand passion in his life…?
And as for that Billy ‘the bonk’ label, well here’s a couple of snippets that gives you a hint of why, but the full story is in ‘Stable Mates’.
Coming soon… the men you've been waiting for...Rory, Mick, Dom and Todd.
Enjoy the ride!
Lottie knew with the ‘just like your mother comment’ exactly where this conversation was going and did her best to head it off with the skill of someone who’d had to do it many times before. Her mother, Alexandra, had been destined to marry someone befitting her breeding, until she fell for Billy Brinkley. A sportsman who was as competent in the sack as saddle, if the headlines and stable tittle-tattle was to be believed.
...And then there had, of course, been a rival rag which had tried to go one better with a ‘Bonko Billy’ cartoon which involved a medal round his neck and Stetson on his head as he straddled what Tiggy had termed (none too fondly) a ‘big boobed babe’.