HAWICK handler Willie Amos and East Lothian jockey Campbell Gillies completed a victorious double, taking the first two races of a quality card at Kelso’s richest race day of the season on Sunday.
The success of Eurohunter in the opener was quickly followed by a victory for chasing debutant Lie Forrit.
Second at Newcastle three weeks ago, when he was returning from an 18-month break, Eurohunter gave an impressive account in the opening Happy Birthday Berwick Speedway’s Julie Newton novices’ hurdle race.
Trained at Broadhaugh by Amos for Berwick owner John Stephenson, the gelding quickened away up the home straight to win by six lengths.
Merchant of Dubai ran a respectable race on his hurdling debut to finish runner-up for Jim Goldie, while Talkin Sence, who got no further than the first on his introduction to timber, gave a much-improved show to finish third at 100-1 for Selkirk handler Stuart Coltherd.
Amos completed a quick-fire double when, half-an-hour later, high-class hurdler Lie Forrit took the John Smith’s Paris Pike novices’ handicap chase.
A leg injury saw the seven-year-old sidelined for the whole of last season, and his performance following such a lengthy lay-off was a real credit to his Hawick trainer.
“The dream lives on,” said a delighted Amos after his success.
“He had done plenty of schooling, and I was really pleased with the way he jumped,” he continued.
Lie Forrit holds an entry for the Long Walk hurdle at Ascot, but may continue chasing.
“I might just keep him chasing, but I’ll have to speak to the owners before making any plans,” he concluded.
With Alistair Whillans saddling Lady Bluesky to head the Kevin Oliver Christmas handicap hurdle, Hawick trainers accounted for the first three races of an action-packed seven-race card.
The grey produced a gutsy display for a 5-1 victory, in the hands of the trainer’s son, Ewan.
“She’s very tough and genuine,” said the winning trainer, “although I was a bit worried the ground might be too soft for her today.”
Scottish National runner-up Always Right recorded a third success over course and distance to land the Monteith Memorial Champion Chase (handicap chase) for Sedgefield-based John Wade, providing jockey James Reveley with the first leg of a double.
Skippers Brig, in the colours of Langholm-based Ashleybank Investments, ran on well to take second, while Sa Suffit from James Ewart’s Langholm stable was third.
The feature John Smith’s Scottish Borders National handicap chase produced an exciting finish, with six still well in contention at the last.
The Keith Reveley-trained Eyre Square battled gamely to hold the challenge of Lockstown by a head, to complete a riding double for the trainer’s son, James.
Micro Mission pounced on long-time leader Seedless to take the Edinburgh Audi/Melrose Rugby Club mares novices’ hurdle race for ex-jockey turned trainer Chris Grant.
Another good afternoon’s racing concluded with a further close finish in the SIS National Hunt novices’ handicap hurdle, where Super Ally got up by a neck to take the spoils for Lockerbie trainer Andrew Parker and East Lothian owners Ray and Anita Anderson Green.
Racing returns to Kelso on Thursday, December 29.