The shock announcement made at Newbury on Saturday was that Champion Jockey, A P McCoy, was going to retire at the end of this season. A P McCoy looks set to be in action at Kelso’s Morebattle Hurdle fixture this Thursday 12th February, with the legendary Ulsterman expected to ride Holywell for Jonjo O’Neill in the Ivan Straker Memorial Chase at 3.30 pm.
The racing world was stunned by A P’s shock announcement, after a career that has seen records broken and in the certainty that he will win his 20th Championship in a row, achieving a feat that will never be equalled or even beaten in the future. This has been one of the most remarkable sporting careers in modern history.
He is assured of a rousing reception at the picturesque Borders track and it promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime chance for Kelso racegoers to give the outstanding sportsman of his generation a rapturous farewell.
The Chairman of Kelso, Johnny Jeffreys, and the proprietor of the Racecourse, Guy, Duke of Roxburghe will make a presentation to Tony McCoy during the afternoon.
This dramatic news will give Thursday’s meeting at Kelso, even greater prominence and this, together with one of the highlights of the National Hunt season featuring on the card, the double header of the Timeform Morebattle Hurdle Memorial, and the Ivan Straker Memorial Steeple Chase makes this a meeting not to be missed.
The Internationally renowned Halifax based Timeform started by Phil Bull still is the “Bible” for all serious students of form. They produce a wide range of racing informative publications and also Kelso’s excellent race card. Nigel Townsend, who is head of operations at the Halifax Headquarters, will be coming up to Kelso to supervise the sponsorship and make the presentations. The 14 entries for the Timeform Morebattle Hurdle include Sandy Thomson’s Seeyouatmidnight, who is being aimed at the World Hurdle, and last season’s Fred Winter Hurdle winner Hawk High.
This is the second year that the Ivan Staker Memorial has been staged at Kelso and Ivan’s widow, Tizzy, has very kindly made this Race possible. It will be very hard to better the first running when the epic battle between Long Run and Knockara Beau delighted the crowd at Kelso. This is the first time a Cheltenham Gold Cup winner had raced in Scotland after his Gold Cup victory but sadly Long Run is on the sidelines so he won’t be able to defend his hard fought victory. Ivan Straker will be long remembered for his huge effort to save the Grand National, which was honoured by a presentation from the Aintree Executive to Tizzy at last year’s National meeting. Ivan was a hugely influential Director of Kelso over many years.
Leading Gold Cup hope Holywell is among some quality entries with Nicky Henderson, who landed the race last year with Long Run hoping to run Grand National hope Rajdhani Express.
The Monteith family, headed by Sheila Monteith and joined by Dennis Coppola, have very kindly agreed to carry their sponsorship forward from the lost meeting in December and are sponsoring the Interactive Race. This is a new initiative introduced by the BHA to try and help to reduce the number of small fields and it means that the local trainers can put in suggestions for the type of race that is to be staged so it is down to them to choose a race and hopefully it will be well supported.
Kelso clerk of the course Hazel Peplinski said: “It’s looking very settled at the moment and there is no rain forecast at all. We’re providing as much fresh ground as possible and there is a terrific quality of entries for a mid-week fixture.”
Another initiative introduced by the BHA is the reduction in race numbers on some cards and therefore this meeting will only be a six-race fixture.
Kelso Racecourse has one of the strongest and most enthusiastic membership and 24 annual members have clubbed together to sponsor the Novice Hurdle. This entitles the contributers to the full benefit that a race sponsor would achieve with their own box and judging the best turned out and making the presentations and greatly adds to their entertainment.
Meanwhile, Kelso Racecourse has scooped the Racegoer’s Club award for the “Best Small Course” in Scotland and the North East for 2014.
“It is great news and a great tribute to our hard working team to achieve this award” said Managing Director Richard Landale.