Kelso Races: Cave Hunter defends titles

Looking over the paddock at Kelso on Ladies' Day. Picture: Stuart Cobley
Looking over the paddock at Kelso on Ladies' Day. Picture: Stuart Cobley
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Cave Hunter produced a back-to-back victory in the hands of Hawick jockey Tom Hamilton at a sun-drenched Kelso Ladies’ Day.

Trained at Birnieknowe by the jockey’s mother, Wendy, the gelding received a rousing reception from a bumper crowd on Sunday.

The nine-year- old defended his 2015 title with a bold front-running display in the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards open hunter chase.

He came into the race fresh from recording a course record in the men’s open at Hexham 14 days earlier.

“It has not been plain sailing preparing him to try to win this race for a second time,” admitted Wendy.

“He loves this top of the ground and I hope we will be able to bring him back to try for the hat-trick next year,” she added.

Langholm trainer James Ewart enjoyed a 100% strike rate at Kelso’s final fixture of the season, when his sole runner Lycidas led from pillar to post for a convincing win in the opening Border Facilities novices’ hurdle race.

“It’s always nice to have a winner here,” said James. “He’s a lovely horse and that’s his most relaxed performance.”

The Newmarket purchase will have a summer at grass, and may run under both codes in the autumn.

Lucinda Russell’s only runner, Seven Devils, was also a winner.

The Milnathort trainer withdrew her other four declared horses, but her sole representative posted a comprehensive victory in the KOSB novices’ handicap chase.

“His best days are ahead of him,” said Lucinda of the six-year- old.

“He has jumped so much better today and Derek (Fox) gave him a great,” she added.

Hawick jockey Craig Nichol won the feature £14,000 Ayton Castle handicap chase, riding the Nicky Richards-trained top-weight, Looking Well.

The winner is to be aimed at the Summer Cup at Uttoxeter in June.

“He is still learning his job,” explained the Cumbrian trainer. “He’s by Gold Well and his offspring appear to like decent ground.”

Greenlaw was in contention when suffering a fatal fall at the last.

Trainer Donald McCain confirmed his position as the track’s leading trainer this term, after completing a double.

Move to the Groove got the better of Traditional Dancer in a thrilling finish to the Reece, Ben, Jessica, and Charlotte Coppola novices’ handicap hurdle race.

“We were a bit worried about the ground but it was safe enough,” said winning jockey Will Kennedy.

Their second success came with dual Irish point-to- point winner What Happens Now in the Elliot Henderson & Son Plant Hire novices’ handicap chase.

“He jumped left-handed last time and was much better suited by this course,” said Kennedy.

Sedgefield victor Vanilla Run posted a six-length success in the concluding Brian Mclaren 40 th Birthday mares bumper.

“That was impressive,” enthused trainer Chris Grant. “We could go for another bumper or the Flat.

“She has schooled well over hurdles but that will come later,” he added.

A minute’s silence was observed between races for racehorse owners Diana Blyth from Northumberland, and Peter Dale of Duns – both keen supporters of the track – who died recently.

Brian Harding was crowned top jockey at the course, while Donald McCain took the trainer’s equivalent.

Some breath-taking outfits were on display at the ever-popular Ladies’ Day, with Nicola Davidson from Falkirk judged best dressed lady, and receiving a £150 voucher for A Hume country clothing in Kelso, as well as a bouquet and champagne.

Georgia Diamond and Declan Leckie from Galashiels were best-dressed couple.

Twelve went to post after racing for the Injured Jockeys Fund Flying Fillies charity race, won by Northumberland jockey and Northern Area ladies’ point-to-point champion, Catherine Walton, riding Kisumu.