The presence of AP McCoy at the Toome point to point on Saturday plus a bright sunny afternoon attracted a major turnout.
The twenty times champion presented the trophy to winning Templepatrick-based owner Wilson Dennison and rider Derek O’Connor, himself eleven times All-Ireland Champion point to point rider, after the Colin McKeever trained Ballycash had easily claimed the first race.
The champion made himself readily available to the public – signing numerous autographs while taking time to go and chat with 21 year old Jonjo Bright, who was paralysed following sustaining spinal injuries in point to point at Tyrella in 2013.
McCoy said: “I’m delighted to be here – it’s a long time since I was at a point to point. It was good to get a chat with Jonjo.”
The “Man from Moneyglass” was back in the saddle later in the afternoon in the donkey derby staged at the McCoy family’s Tumbledown Pub in aid of the NI Children’s Hospice. However he had to settle for third behind the Barry McGuigan partnered winner led into the winner’s enclosure by his protégé, Carl Frampton in front of a huge crowd of supporters. Record breaking, Northern Ireland footballer David Healy and Tyrone Gaelic player Sean Cavanagh were other sports stars to done colours as jockeys for the day.
May Mc Fettridge provided a race commentary but decided against attempting to do a “McCoy”.
Chief organiser of the point to point, Judith Hamilton, had a busy day having also supplied the “runners” for the donkey derby and doubled up on the day at both venues.
Judith said: “The day was a great success. My thanks to all sponsors and those who helped on the course and of course the public for their support. It was very kind of AP to do the initial presentation and the attendance befitted out local hero.”
The Mid Antrim Hunt staged a minute’s silence in remembrance of the late Seamus McAllister who sadly passed away recently with riders removing their helmets and standing still in the paddock.
Newry trainer Liam Lennon highlighted his team were in top form when recording a double at the initial Ulster fixture partnered by Warrenpoint rider and former regional champion Mark O’Hare.
South Circle landed the mare’s maiden to the delight of Scarva based owner/breeder, William Anderson, who advised: “I bred her and her mother and grandmother. I have three sisters to her at home.”
The Newry handler quickly doubled up in the following race when Benarty Hill reverting from the course proper claimed the geldings maiden and Lennon said: “That’s a good start to the season. I have 18 pointers in training for this year.”
Irish champion amateur rider Patrick Mullins was another high profile visitor to the local circuit and another taking time to chat with Jonjo Bright while advising his mount in the open race – Luska Lad – would surprisingly only be his second ride in point to points.
Mullins mount in the feature trained by “Shark” Hanlon started 1/2 favourite and Carsonstown Boy – twice placed in the Cheltenham Festival Foxhunters proved no match for the winner when easily beaten by twenty lengths by You Must Know Me on his debut for Derrylin trainer, David Christie having been formerly trained by Henry De Bromhead.
The Fermanagh trainer said: “I’m delighted for the owner – Alistair Corrigan from Athy. He could come back here in a couple of weeks time but he was bought for a tilt at the Aintree Foxhunters. He might run in the hunterchase on Boxing Day at Down Royal as he’s qualified for that race.”
The winner was partnered by Barry O’Neill who brought his tally in points to 300 on Sunday at the Rathcannon fixture.
Former All-Ireland and Northern Champion, Jamie Codd was discharged from Antrim hospital on Sunday following a fall in the open race. Quiet Account trained by Colin McBratney, who saw stable star Carsonstown Boy denied in the open race, easily claimed the winners contest while Draperstown trainer, Noel Kelly, saddled Maz Majecc to win the finale providing his nephew, Steven with his first ever winner and having had his first ride earlier in the day.
First race: 1st, Ballycash [Derek O’Connor] 2/1 fav; 2nd, Hammer And Anvil; 3rd, Land League
8 ran 3–11/2
Second race: 1st, South Circle [Mark O’Hare] 4/1; 2nd, Yewtree Girl; 3rd, Lucky Buttons
12 ran 31/2 – 20
Third race: 1st, Benarty Hill [Mark O’Hare] 4/1; 2nd, Redbridge Rudi; 3rd, Ballymalin
5 ran 20 – 15
Fourth race: 1st, You Must Know Me [Barry O’Neill] 10/1; 2nd, Carsonstown Boy; 3rd, Luska Lad
5 ran 20 – 2
Fifth race: 1st, Quiet Account [Jason McKeown] 4/6 fav; 2nd, Kilna Shane; 3rd, Gonal
4 ran 15–20
Sixth race: 1st, Maz Majecc [Steven Kelly] 6/4; 2nd, American Image; 3rd, Looks Majectic
6 ran 15 - 20