Principals under starter’s orders at Kelso

KELSO racecourse opens its gates for an exciting new season with the ever-popular family day on Sunday, featuring another highly competitive Borders principals’ race.

The seven-race card comes under orders at 2.05pm, with the Borders principals’ race at 1.30pm, and gates opening at noon. There will be a host of entertainment for children, with under-17s admitted free when accompanied by an adult.

There is a full complement of 14 runners for the principals’ race, where inter-town rivalry will again prove fierce. Last year’s runner-up, Scott Nisbet, from Musselburgh, will bid to go one better, while Suzanne Henry, from Galashiels, hopes to regain the trophy she won in 2005.

The first race, a competitive two-mile Sunday Mail Handicap Hurdle, sees a strong Scottish entry including Border Tale and Regent’s Secret, trained by Jimmy Moffatt and Jim Goldie respectively. Jedburgh-based Harriet Graham, clerk of the course at Perth and soon to be confirmed for the same role at Musselburgh, has pencilled in hat-trick-seeking Scotswell, while Hawick’s Alistair Whillans is represented by Claude Carter.

Feature race of the day is the NSPCC School Service Intermediate Hurdle, sponsored by East Lothian owners Ray and Anita Anderson Green.

A select, quality field includes Aikman and Bold Sir Brian. Aikman, from James Ewart’s Langholm stable, won twice last season and was far from disgraced at Cheltenham and Aintree. Bold Sir Brian, trained by Lucinda Russell, won Kelso’s grade two premier hurdle in impressive style last spring.

The supporting handicap chase, sponsored by Isle of Skye Scotch Whisky, is off at 3.25pm.

Star Beat, trained at Middleham by jockey Richie McGath’s mother-in-law Kate Walton, won at Catterick just before Christmas and is one of the likely top weights. Definite Dawn is on the same rating for Welsh handler Tim Vaughan.

The Carrington family again back the novice handicap hurdle at 4.25pm. Among the afternoon’s biggest entry of 37 is Carters Rest, trained near Hawick by ex-jockey Iain ‘Scobie’ Jardine, who was in the winners’ enclosure this summer on the flat. Mick Easterby landed the Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood with Hoof It and he may have a crack at this with his Sherrif Hutton raider Hurlingham.

Radio Borders, which will be broadcasting live from the track, has sponsored the penultimate chase on the card. After setting a new personal-best campaign in 2010-11, James Ewart could be represented in this by Frontier Boy, who fell last time at Carlisle on Easter Saturday. Andrew Parker has entered Super Ally.

The second race, Kelso’s first juvenile hurdle of the season, is sponsored by the Urwin family. Donald McCain has entered Cordillera, Lexi’s Boy and Hollow Tree, while Ben Haslam is dual-handed with Blake Dean and Blue Ronnie.

Robert Weir, of City Roofing Ltd, has returned to support the opening bumper of the season. Stables to keep an eye on include Alan Swinbank (Anna’s Arch, Dome Run, Mitchell’s Way and The Ferick) and Rose Dobbin (Groovy Dancer).