AT Downpatrick Castlederg-born jockey Simon Torrens won the Tote Jackpot Is Back Handicap Hurdle on Andys Flame, who is trained in Co Meath by John McConnell.

Downpatrick’s own Deckie Lavery landed the Cosy Roof INH Flat Race on the newcomer Sir Jimmy Mac who is trained in Co Mayo by Muredach Kelly. The bumper winner, a six-year-old Valirann gelding who impressed when winning by 24 lengths, was bred locally by Brenda Cunningham out of the Presenting mare Georgia Girl who comes from the family of Mrs Playfair and Wolf Of Badenoch.

He runs in the colours of Bright owner Marie Laird and was named after her brother Jimmy by her husband Brian.

The last-named will be well-known to followers of the pony racing world as a trainer and, in 2017, he saddled Ida’s Dream to win the Dingle Derby under Sam Ewing. “It was through the pony racing that I got to know Muredach and we’ve been friends now for about 40 years. I did the pre-training of the horse myself and then sent him down to Ballinasloe. We think a lot of the horse and, if he’s not sold, we might take him to Aintree.”

The Lairds’ son Stephen used to ride as an amateur but now works as an equine dentist. He featured in the Heart Of Racing column in these pages in January 2016.

It was great to see the East Down Hounds parading at the meeting before racing while there was a super result on Sunday evening when £40,000 was raised for the Irish Red Cross Ukraine Crisis Appeal (See Parrot Mouth on page 15).

Ballantine in the money

THE St Patrick’s Day meeting at Down Royal got off to the best possible start with Colin McBratney saddling Billable Grant to win the opening Maiden Hurdle in the colours of paddock announcer and UTV presenter Pamela Ballantine, who is featured in this week’s The Owner column (page 20). The Dungannon-headquartered feed company sponsored all races bar the Adare Manor Opportunity Handicap Hurdle on the bank holiday card and Pamela was presented with her winning prize by the firm’s Craig Kileff.

The latter is well-known on the polocrosse circuit and is, in fact, chairman of Tyrella Polocrosse Club.