The first Scottish point-to-point action for more than ten months takes place on Saturday with the Duke of Buccleuch’s fixture at Friars Haugh, Kelso.
It has attracted 74 entries on a seven race card, which starts at 1pm.
The opening Border Hunts Club Members Race has 12 entries, although four of the leading contenders, Damiens Dilemma, Great Gusto, Kingcora and Wayupinthesky, are also entered in the Men’s Open. The former was only beaten a short head by Banoge in the 2015 renewal and should come on a lot for a recent spin at Musselburgh.
Great Gusto finished twelve lengths third to One Conemara on his reappearance at Corbridge, while ex-chaser, Kingcora recorded his last win under Rules at Market Rasen in January 2015. Of the others, Viacometti made an encouraging seasonal debut at Corbridge a fortnight ago when eight lengths second to Flash Garden.
Flash Garden was very impressive that day and is the one to beat in the Connolly’s Red Mills Intermediate Race which also has 12 entries. Sedgefield bumper winner, Daring Exit finished a close third to Lord Of The Course at Corbridge; course winner, Farm Pixie should go well for Charlotte Dun; Shannon Silver and Whisperdale were both placed at Corbridge, while Wizadora merits respect if reproducing the form which saw her narrowly beaten by Comedinewithme at Brocklesby Park last month.
There are nine entries for the Jockey Club Open Mares Maiden Race. Corolynn and Worcester Pearmain shaped well when third and fourth respectively at Corbridge; Moscanisi found only Over To Sam five lengths too good at Corbridge; My Lady West was second and looking held when falling at the last in Solid Strike’s race at Corbridge, while Catherine Walton’s mount, Play Practice had three runs over hurdles at the end of 2015.
The 11 entries for the AGA Ladies Open Race are headed by 2015 winner, Ockey De Neulliac. Neil Mechie’s 14 year old stable star will be looking to bounce back to form after being pulled up on his recent comeback outing in a Leicester Hunters’ Chase. Jacqueline Coward steered Beggar’s Velvet to victory in the 3m 5f Tynedale equivalent and the same partnership must go close again on this stayers track. Ex-hurdler, Wind Of Hope was well beaten when unseating at Musselburgh last time; Tobougg Welcome made all in lesser company at Bangor-on-Dee; course winner, Rolecarr was pulled up on his reappearance at Corbridge, while Cartmel scorer, Probably George lost nothing in defeat when beaten a head by Dica at Corbridge.
There is plenty of quality among the eight entries for the Men’s Open Race, which include the aforementioned quartet of Damiens Dilemma, Great Gusto, Kingcora and Wayupinthesky. The latter will be looking to recapture the form which saw him land the 3m 5f Tynedale Open as well as Kelso and Perth Hunters’ Chases last season. Badger Foot and Ballyvesey are also entered in the NPPA Club Members, while Rossini’s Dancer represents Nick Alexander’s in-form Kinneston yard but the class act is ex-Irish chaser, Klepht who led all the way in a recent 2m 4f Musselburgh Hunters’ Chase on his first start for Drew Holmes.
Royal Chatelier heads the ratings for the NPPA Club Members Race. Jamie Alexander’s mount had an Alnwick prize in safe keeping on his seasonal debut in January when unseating two out and compensation awaits here. This contest is probably an easier option than the Men’s Open for Badger Foot and Ballyvesey, with Great Gusto and Nickwillis others to note.
The concluding Open Maiden Race has 13 entries and, on paper, promises to be a competitive affair. Most of them ran at Corbridge a fortnight ago with New Vic catching the eye when six lengths 2nd to The Highlander, while Hewhodareswins finished twenty lengths 3rd in the same race. S For Estuary was beaten around fifteen lengths when 4th to Solid Strike at Corbridge and in the same contest, the lightly raced Lockiesedge still held every chance when unseating three out. Doreen Calder’s 8 year old gelding, Sound Barrier showed steady improvement in 2015, his debut season, finishing with form figures of 323.
The Friars Haugh course is situated alongside the A699, quarter of a mile west of Kelso. The post code for SatNav users is TD5 8LS.