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Animal Magic Mountain Vets TV star Maurice King's horse wins race 48 hours after his death

"We were delighted because all our hard work had paid off, but we were also sad at the same time, because Maurice wasn't there to see the horse win for himself."

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Mountain Vets TV star Maurice King - who died last week - passed away two days before witnessing his very own piece of animal magic.

Mountain Vets TV star Maurice King - who died last week - passed away two days before witnessing his very own piece of animal magic.

Mountain Vets TV star Maurice King - who died last week - passed away two days before witnessing his very own piece of animal magic.

Mountain Vets TV star Maurice King passed away last week, two days before his very own piece of animal magic.

Because his thoroughbred racehorse Easca Peasca romped home to scoop first place just 24 hours before his funeral.

Stable hand Meghan Ross - who looks after the four year-old gelding - told the Sunday World: "I was in floods of tears as I watched the horse cross the finishing line."

And trainer Brian Hamilton said: "It was happy and sad at the same time. It was a poignant win, because we were all thinking of Maurice and his family at the time.

"We were delighted because all our hard work had paid off, but we were also sad at the same time, because Maurice wasn't there to see the horse win for himself."

He added: "Maurice would have been thrilled."

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Stable hand Meghan Ross - who looks after the four year-old gelding - told the Sunday World: "I was in floods of tears as I watched the horse cross the finishing line."

Stable hand Meghan Ross - who looks after the four year-old gelding - told the Sunday World: "I was in floods of tears as I watched the horse cross the finishing line."

Stable hand Meghan Ross - who looks after the four year-old gelding - told the Sunday World: "I was in floods of tears as I watched the horse cross the finishing line."

Co Down man Maurice - a legend in Ulster farming circles - became a household name after he appeared in the TV series Mountain Vets.

Along with his son Cahir, vet Maurice won the hearts of TV viewers for their kind and compassionate attitude to patients and their owners.

The six-part series focused on three veterinary practices based in the spectacular Mourne Mountains.

And it showed Maurice and Cahir out on the mountainous terrain in all sorts of weather, risking life and limb to ensure the survival of their four-legged friends.

Originally from Burrenbridge, near Castlewellan - where one of his brothers still runs the daily farm - Maurice was well-known in local farming circles.

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However, it was in the Downe Veterinary Clinic in Downpatrick where Maurice built his reputation as one of the top vets in the picturesque county.

He was later joined in the practice by his son Cahir, who will now carry on the family business.

But a little known fact was that Maurice also had a love of horse racing.

He was the driving force behind the 'Yes We Will' racing syndicate. Last year, the group bought the promising four-year-old brown gelding Easca Peasca - which means 'Easy Peasy' in Irish.

"Maurice and his syndicate friends bought Easca Peasca last Christmas. And he came to our yard in January," said Brian Hamilton, a former point to point and track jockey who now runs the BR Hamilton Stables outside Downpatrick.

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Brian Hamilton - a former point to point and track jockey - who now runs the B.R.Hamilton Stables, outside Downpatrick hard at work at his stables.

Brian Hamilton - a former point to point and track jockey - who now runs the B.R.Hamilton Stables, outside Downpatrick hard at work at his stables.

Brian Hamilton - a former point to point and track jockey - who now runs the B.R.Hamilton Stables, outside Downpatrick hard at work at his stables.

"He isn't a big horse, but he is a character and he has plenty of spirit."

With the help of stable assistants Meghan Ross (21) and Amanda Telford (24), Brian said he managed to develop the horse's fitness.

"We realised he liked jumping and we concentrated on that.

"We entered him at Punchestown last January and he came in at 33/1.

"But we've seen a steady improvement in his performance. The horse was placed second a few times over the last 10 months, at Down Royal and Tipperary.

"And when he ran at Downpatrick last month, we hoped Maurice might have been well enough to come along, but he wasn't really well enough.

"As it turned out, it was Gowran Park on 1 October - with jockey SF O'Keefe on his back - that was to be his big day. He came in at 9/4," said Brian. He added: "But it was just a pity Maurice had passed away two days before."

Maurice died aged 70, surrounded by his loving family, on Wednesday September 29 and his funeral took place at St Patrick's Saul, last Saturday.

He is survived by wife Anne and sons Colin, Cahir and Maurice, as well as four grandchildren.

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