A new year day at the races in Kelso

A big Kelso crowd watched last month's Festive Fling (picture by Alan Raeburn)
A big Kelso crowd watched last month's Festive Fling (picture by Alan Raeburn)

New Year racing comes under orders at Kelso on Sunday, when the feature race of another cracking afternoon’s sport is the £25,000 Caledonian Hunt handicap chase.

Incorporated in 1751 and given the Royal patronage in 1777, the Caledonian Hunt first sponsored a race at Kelso in 1779, and continue as biennial sponsors at the Borders track.

Third Intention, who has appeared at the last six Cheltenham Festivals, could be a first Kelso runner for Dorset trainer Colin Tizzard. Lucinda Russell was on the mark at the last fixture and has pencilled in Final Assault and Present

Lodger.

Racing comes under orders at 12.40pm, with gates open at 10.40am.

Chirnside financial advisor Douglas Pryde, owner of 2013 Grand National winner Auroras Encore, generously sponsors the second race on the card – a two-mile novice hurdle which has attracted 32 entries.

George Charlton’s parents are making good progress after a serious car accident and a big run from Fairlee Grey, who was a 50/1 second at Ayr last month, would be a nice tonic.

Hawick-born Keith Dalgleish – who amassed a personal best of 93 winners last term - has Easteaming as a possible contender.

The European Breeders Fund has been a loyal supporter of Kelso and sponsors the opening 2m 6 ½f ‘National Hunt’ novices’ hurdle. The EBF supports grass roots racing, redistributing funds it collects from stallion owners.

Nicky Henderson has several entries on the card and the Lambourn trainer has pencilled in recent Doncaster winner, Stowaway Magic. There are five other ‘last time out’ winners and they include Donald McCain’s pair, Lough Derg Jewel

and Testify.

The EBF also jointly sponsors the third race on the card with the Thoroughbred Breeders Association - a valuable £10,000 Mares’ Novices’ handicap chase.

Peter and Gillian Allan have been long-time caterers at the racecourse and sponsor the three-mile handicap hurdle race.

Course winners include Brae On, trained near Hawick by George Bewley, while Hawick brothers Alistair and Donald Whillans have entered Brackenmoss Rory and Snapping Turtle respectively.

Kelso-based racecourse director Jane Millar, sponsors the two-mile handicap hurdle race to celebrate a family birthday. Jane and her husband George farm Ferneyhill, together with several other farms under the Millar family banner.

Langholm handler James Ewart could be the trainer to follow in this, as he is triple-handed with Aristo Du Plessis, Avidity and Lycidas. Pauline Robson has already booked in-form jockey Brian Hughes to ride course and distance scorer

Teo Vivo.

Another local racecourse director, Robert Miller-Bakewell, sponsors the open hunters’ chase under the name of his equestrian stables at Eildon Hill, run by Joanna Imray.

This is the first hunters’ chase of the new season at Kelso, and Nowurhurlin and Nick Orpwood, the winning combination two years ago, are likely to bid for more success. Former jockey Gary Rutherford saddles Barrick’s Hill, a two-time

winning point to pointer, and Ryan Nichol, brother of champion conditional Craig Nichol, is set to ride Havana Jack.

The next race meeting is Morebattle Hurdle Day on Thursday, February 16. Reduced price admission is available until this Monday with the Early Bird Tickets, available at www.kelso-races.co.uk/buy.