Irish racing pays tribute to leading official Brian Fitzsimmons
The death has occurred of Co Down man Brian Fitzsimmons, a long-standing member of the National Hunt Committee and steward of the Irish Turf Club.
Mr Fitzsimmons, who passed away on Friday, was awarded an MBE in 1996 for his service in public office - a fact unknown to the majority of his friends such was his modesty, with only his family members being aware of the honour.
The Fitzsimmons name is synonymous here with horse racing and events.
Mr Fitzsimmons was another of the family to ride in point-to-points, following in the footsteps of his father Frankie snr, a legendary figure in local racing.
He was an accomplished rider and mounted several winners between the flags and on the track alongside his brother and current Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board official Frankie.
The best-known horses Mr Fitzsimmons was associated with were Bright Trick, Hopes Choice and Holly Park.
He had been a member of the National Hunt Committee since 1986.
He had also served as a steward of the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase committee for two terms - 1995-1998 and then again from 2010-2013. And he served on the licensing committee, appeals committee and point-to-point committee.
A minute's silence was observed at Down Royal racecourse on Friday night in his memory.
An ardent supporter of numerous charities, Mr Fitzsimmons supported Riding For The Disabled, the Irish Injured Jockeys Fund and Macmillan Cancer Care.
A quiet, reserved individual, he was widely respected for his wealth of knowledge and for his fairness in the decisions he made in his role representing the Turf Club, and in on-course enquiries.
Sending condolences to the family, Denis Egan, chief executive of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board, said: "We are saddened to hear of Brian's passing.
"He was a deeply committed member of the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase committee and the Turf Club.
"He made a huge contribution to the sport, particularly point-to-points."
Mr Egan added: "He will be greatly missed."
A Requiem Mass will be held for Mr Fitzsimmons at 11am today at St Patrick's Church, Downpatrick.
Interment will follow afterwards in Down Parish Churchyard.