Hawick brothers Craig and Ryan Nichol were both in winning form at Kelso’s New Year meeting on Sunday.
Craig rode Bernardelli to land the feature £25,000 handicap chase and Ryan partnered Seemorelights to a 66-1 success in the novices’ hurdle race.
Craig (22), last season’s champion conditional, powered home aboard 11-1 chance Bernardelli to record a convincing nine-length victory in the Royal Caledonian Hunt handicap chase, providing Cumbrian trainer Nicky Richards with the second leg of a double.
“We put the blinkers back on, just to sharpen him up, and he likes good deep ground,” explained the winning handler.
The Greystoke trainer had earlier taken the opening Kelso EBF National Hunt novices’ hurdle race, with 9-4 favourite Progress Drive.
“He’s immature and still learning his job but has done nothing wrong, and looks to have a fair level of ability,” said Richards.
Amateur jockey Ryan Nichol, elder brother of Craig, rode the longest-priced winner of the afternoon when Seemorelights was 66-1 winner of the D. G. Pryde Ltd novices’ hurdle race.
Ryan (25) was recording his first success since a bad fall last year.
The five-year-old’s gutsy victory secured a 100 per cent strike rate at the fixture for Greenlaw trainer Sandy Thomson – Seemorelights being his only runner at his local track.
In the colours of Duns owners Andrew Watson and David Lawrence, the gelding battled gamely in testing conditions to score by a length-and- a-half.
Despite his long odds, Sandy admitted he “wasn’t unhopeful” of his charge’s chances.
“We bought him at the May Sales at Doncaster and he was the last to go through the ring,” said Sandy of the ex-Irish pointer, crediting his wife Quona for the purchase.
“She has a great eye for a horse and she picked him out,” said Sandy. “Ryan rides his every day at home, and that’s a big benefit,” he added.
Another to score with his only runner at the Borders track, was Michael Scudamore, when Two Smokin Barrels continued her unbeaten run over fences to head the TBA/EBF mares’ novices handicap chase, and provide her trainer with a victorious track debut.
“It’s my first runner here,” said the Herefordshire-based handler, who only joined the line-up when entries re-opened. “It’s a long way from home but it’s good prize money and a really friendly course with a great atmosphere,” he added.
The Pauline Robson-trained Teo Vivo produced a career-best performance, romping home under Brian Hughes for a convincing nine-length win in the Ferneyhill handicap hurdle race.
“I’m thrilled with him,” said Pauline’s partner and assistant trainer David Parker, after the grey’s impressive success. “He’s a better hurdler than a chaser,” he added.
Three were in line at the final flight in the P. & G. Allan Catering handicap hurdle race, where Bescot Springs battled gamely to take the spoils for the in-form Lucinda Russell, who had saddled One for Arthur to land the feature £60,000 handicap chase at Warwick the previous day for Borders owners Belinda McClung and Deborah Thomson.
Bescot Springs carries the colours of the Milnathort trainer’s father, Peter, and has proved a stable stalwart, scoring eight times under Rules.
Another good afternoon’s racing concluded with the competitive Eildon Hill Stables open hunter chase, where market leaders Grand Vision and Black Thunder battled it out in the closing stages – Sam Waley-Cohen holding the late run of Dolatulo to win a cracking contest.
Black Thunder, a £90,000 purchase on the eve of the Grand National, is quoted at 16-1 for the Foxhunters at Cheltenham.
Racing returns to Kelso on Thursday, February 16 for Morebattle Hurdle Day. Sunday’s results:
12.40pm – 1 Progress Drive (S. Mulqueen) 9-4 fav, 2 Perfect Pirate 3-1, 3 Ryedale Racer 100-30; six ran. N Richards, Greystoke.
1.10pm – Seemorelights (R. Nichol) 66-1, 2 Red Indian evens favourite, 3 Helmsley Lad 5-1; 13 ran. A. Thomson, Greenlaw.
1.40pm – Two Smokin Barrels (L. Treadwell) evens favourite, 2 Conquer Gold 7-2, 3 Billy Billy 5-1; five ran. M. Scudamore, Herefordshire.
2.10pm – Teo Vivo (B. Hughes) 5-2, 2 Sleepy Haven 7-2, 3 Nuts Well 4-1; six ran. P. Robson, Northumberland.
2.40pm – Bernardelli (C. Nichol) 11-1, 2 Spanish Fleet 14-5 favourite, 3 De Vous A Mois 5-1; six ran. N. Richards.
3.10pm – Bescot Springs (A. Thorne) 9-1, 2 Snapping Turtle 9-2, 3 Kings Eclipse 9-1; nine ran. L.Russell, Milnathort.
3.40pm – Black Thunder (S. Waley-Cohen) 11-8 fav, 2 Dolatulo 6-1, 3 Grand Vision 7-4; eight ran. W. Greatrex, Lambourn.