Countryside meet set to be hot favourite

SUNDAY’s Kelso meeting plays host to the track’s fifth Countryside Race Day, when a competitive seven-race card is complemented by a foxhound show, ferret racing, hound trail, and birds of prey demonstration.

Gates open early at 10am to give racegoers the chance to sample the wide range of supporting events and attractions, with the first race off at 12.15pm.

Feature race of the afternoon is a novice chase run in memory of course patron and chairman Reg Tweedie and his wife Betty, and sponsored by Langholm-based Ashleybank Investments. The Donald McCain-trained Alderley Rover should do well after two solid efforts over fences this autumn. John Wade has seen his colours carried to victory on several occasions recently and narrow Hexham chase debut winner Club Class could go close again.

Second race on the card is a beginners’ chase, where Alfie Flits, third in the Grade 2 Premier Kelso Novices’ Hurdle in 2009, is an interesting chasing recruit. Alan Swinbank’s charge is rated 139 over hurdles. Blackpool Billy, who carries the colours of Trevor Hemmings, has been off the track since his chasing debut over two years ago but remains well-regarded by Ferdy Murphy. Another to watch is the Rose Dobbin-trained Role On, who showed terrific form over fences two seasons ago and is on the comeback trail after 18 months off .

The Coppola family sponsors the novice hurdle, which looks a particularly competitive event.

Winning Irish pointer Davy Boy Legend, a close seventh in the Charlie Brown United Border Open Hunters’ Chase at Kelso in May, could make his hurdling debut for Dalkeith permit-holder Josette Ross. Funky Munky has some decent form on the Flat and Hawick trainer Alistair Whillans’ stable is in terrific form.

Punchestown, the home of Irish National Hunt Racing, is backing the opening mares’ maiden hurdle race. Jimmy Moffatt may give Blazing Bay her hurdling introduction, while Just Maddie is another likely contender for Selkirk permit-holder Rayson Nixon.

Ron and Mary Mitchell celebrate their diamond wedding anniversary by sponsoring the fifth race on the card, a two-mile handicap hurdle.

Their race has attracted a good entry and Hawick trainer Willie Amos will be hoping for better luck with Bob’s Dream as the Newmill raider has pulled up twice-in-a-row since winning here back in the spring.

A competitive bumper concludes the day’s racing and entries include A Patchy Dancer and Crafti Bookie from Sue Smith’s stable and Tim Easterby’s Fourjacks.