Horse Racing: Kelso stages another £100,000 race day

Shades of Midnight and Calum Whillans (blue) win at Kelso in January last year
Shades of Midnight and Calum Whillans (blue) win at Kelso in January last year

There is a total of £100,000 on offer at the Border track’s Party In The Paddock meeting on Saturday 2nd April with an earlier start time than originally scheduled gates now open at 11.45 and the first race off at 1.45pm.

The feature race, The Liz Adam Memorial, is a Class 2 chase over 2m1f making up half of the total prize money.

This is the fourth running of this valuable memorial race and fellow Kelso sponsor Ronnie Bartlett has entered his hugely talented Simonsig who Nicky Henderson has been nursing back to fitness. It will be a huge boost to the racecourse to attract such a quality runner to the Borders.

Paul Nicholls has sent several horses to the Borders venue this winter from his Somerset base and the champion jumps trainer has entered three highly-rated chasers including Vibrato Valtat who was still going well at Cheltenham when falling four out in a race won by the mighty Vautour. Other interesting entries include Nicky Richards’ three-time Kelso winner Simply Ned.

Belhaven Brewery have thrown their weight behind the Border track this year with several new promotions and generously agree to sponsor the opening race on the card which is a 2m5f Novices’ Handicap Chase. Keith Grieve works tirelessly to promote Belhaven Best and the other quality products emanating from the highly regarded Dunbar brewery. James Ewart is likely to be represented by Ueueteotl who was bred by his brother William and named after a mythical Aztec god. Nick Alexander is usually on the scoresheet at Kelso and his three entries include Gold Opera who has already won twice this term at Ayr and Newcastle.

David Stevenson of Ashleybank Investments has been an enormously loyal supporter of Kelso Races and continues with his sponsorship of a race in memory of those two great characters Reg and Betty Tweedie who did so much to put the racecourse on the map.

Another of Kelso’s great characters Peter Russell, Chairman of Ian Macleod & Co who distill Isle of Skye blended whisky and London Hill gin, again sponsor the £20,000 3m2f Handicap Hurdle. George Charlton’s veteran Knockara Beau will have a lot of supporters cheering him on as the 13-year-old returns to the scene of five of his eleven career wins. One of his main rivals could be Donald Whillans’ Hawick raider Shades Of Midnight who is on a hat-trick after recent strikes at Ayr and Kelso.

The GxH Ancrum Celebration Handicap Hurdle is sure to be a very lively party and it could be significant that Danny Cook has already been booked for the ride on Miami Present - absent since winning at Fakenham in October - by Harriet Bethell. Quill Art adds spice to the race as he is trained by Richard Fahey who saddled a mammoth 235 winners on the Flat last year.

An anonymous sponsor has very generously supported the Handicap Hurdle that will run over 2m5f and the race is being used to publicise the great success of Kelso Races newly introduced Early Bird ticket offer. This race is sure to be very competitive with entries from Jimmy Moffatt who is looking forward to the Grand National with Highland Lodge and the Cartmel trainer is represented in this by Mondlicht who was unbeaten in two Flat runs when trained by Mark Johnston. Lucinda Russell’s Tantamount was second on his only previous Kelso appearance and has been given plenty of time to recover from a heavy fall at Ayr in January.

The Urwin Family from Norham are hugely keen supporters of the racecourse and Jonny has very generously sponsored the Hunter Chase with the unusual title “The Lads & Vultures Open Hunters’ Steeply Chase”. Badger Foot has won eleven races - four under Rules and seven in point to points - for eleven different riders, the latest being Connor Wood who gained his first ever victory on Lucinda Russell’s gelding at Friars Haugh last month. Great to see Wendy Hamilton’s Cave Hunter and Alan Brown’s Pena Dorada among the entries as both Roxburghshire horses ran in the Foxhunter Chase Challenge Cup at Cheltenham recently.

Party In The Paddock kicks off after the last race with the Pavilion Marquee open to all racegoers, over 18, until 10pm. There will be live music from young local band Indos and a DJ and the Pavilion Marquee has a fully stocked cash bar.