Filly gets father & daughter underway

By Jonny Turner

Generations combined when Ballymena ran to a debut victory at Winton on Friday.

The filly gave father and daughter training combination Owen Lawrence and Carol Graham their first victory when sprinting along the passing lane to win race 2 for driver Rory McIlwrick.

Lawrence is no stranger to training successes and neither is Graham considering they have been working horses together for the best part of 25 years.

But this is the first year they have been in an official partnership and it took them just eight starts to notch their first success.

“I am really delighted because Dad and I bred this horse and we bred her mother – Arancia – she won four for us,” Graham said.

“She broke down, so I bred three foals and I thought I would see how they go before I go any further.”

“The first one (Miss Auckland) won four and now she has been sold to Australia.”

“Now I have got this one (Ballymena) and I have still Vincent rising two-year-old to come.”

Ballymena looked smart in her trials leading into her debut on Friday.

Though the filly wasn’t always a race track natural and she took some time to develop into her big frame.

“I called it growing pains – we all decided she needed time,” Graham said.

“She has only just qualified and she is sound as a bell now.”

“I think she just had growing pains when she was younger, she was always going to take time because she is a big girl.”

McIlwrick gave Ballymena a perfect run in the trail to set up the filly’s victory.

The reinsman isn’t just a big help on the track, he has been a key part in developing the filly as she has progressed towards the races.

“Dad is no spring chicken, he is 83 now, so I came into the partnership to take on some more responsibility.”

“I still work fulltime as a nurse and Rory is a huge help to us.”

“It was a prefect drive.”

Owen Lawrence trained 36 winners before joining his daughter in their training partnership.

The Jailer (6 wins), Jay See Eye (6 wins) and I’m Trouble (6 wins) have been among his best performers.

Lawrence and Graham line up I’m Trouble at Gore’s meeting on Monday.

The pacer won the corresponding race at the same meeting last year.

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