Selkirk race track secures cash boost

SELKIRK’S Rig, reputedly Scotland’s oldest horseracing track, has been awarded £10,800 for refurbishment from the Payback Sports Facilities Fund.

Billy Birse, Scottish Borders Council’s community service manager and Common Riding enthusiast Gordon Newlands filled in the appluication form – but kept it a secret from The Rig committee.

“We did not want to get our hopes up,” Mr Newlands said.

However, both men were rewarded with a phone call confirming their application had been successful.

Mr Newlands told us: “I was over the moon, as the Rig was beginning to show its age after nearly 400 years of racing. We broke the news just recently to the committee who are also delighted.

“The works will be quite extensive, making the weigh house and overall appearance look up to date and wind and watertight.”

The application details their plans for major repairs to the roof and wooden racing fences, and replacing windows and doors – as well as holding more races outside the Common Riding.

He wrote in his application: “In recent years, due to the cost of maintaining this area, it has only been used one day per year as part of Selkirk’s Common Riding traditions. It is hoped that if refurbishments can be made to the track and building, then further races could be held throughout the year.

“At a single race meeting last year 3,500 spectators attended and all proceeds from entry were fed back to help other parts of Selkirk’s Common Riding celebrations survive in these difficult financial times.”

The award is being funded by a £3million pot set aside by the Scottish Government for community service projects.

The Payback Sports Facilities Fund aims to promote the rehabilitation of offenders and help reduce reoffending by maintaining and improving sports amenities available to communities throughout Scotland.

The work will utilise the labour of offenders sentenced to unpaid work in the community”.