Bumper prize fund riding on Sunday’s race meeting

Road To Gold wins last year's Black Swan Kelso Novices Hurdle Race (picture by Caledonia Photos).

Road To Gold wins last year's Black Swan Kelso Novices Hurdle Race (picture by Caledonia Photos).

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With a total prize fund of £106,000, Kelso racecourse holds its richest meeting of the season this coming Sunday.

Featured races include the prestigious Persimmon Homes Scottish Borders National.

Gates open at 10.20am, with the first race off two hours later.

Gary Strathdee sponsors the opening Black Swan Kelso novices’ hurdle race – won 12 months ago by Nick Alexander with Road To Gold (right).

The Kinneston trainer is represented by newcomer Dance Of Fire.

Venetia Williams’ horses have started to hit form and she has pencilled in recent Hexham third Willie Boy.

John Wade is sponsoring the Paris Pike novices’ chase, run in memory of Ivan Straker’s 1999 Kelso winner and 2000 Scottish National victor.

Sandy Thomson’s top-class chaser Seeyouatmidnight landed this in great style last year and the Greenlaw handler bids to win it again with The Dutchman, who won on his debut over fences at Wetherby. Paul Nicholls-trained Arpeggios D’alene, co-owned by Sir Alex Ferguson, impressed at Aintree last time.

Jedburgh businessman Iain Livingstone, a new sponsor, backs the mares’ novices’ hurdle race in celebration of his 60th birthday. Michael Scudamore could have a rare Kelso runner in recent Lingfield hurdles debut winner Grace Tara.

Also on the card is the two-mile handicap hurdle, which is a challenger qualifier for the Haydock finals. The Character, trained by Donald McCain, is on a hat-trick, following back-to-back wins this autumn at Musselburgh and Bangor.

Dianne Sayer is double-handed with Cool Baranca and Endeavor, who are both course and distance winners.

The four-mile feature Border National race, sponsored by Duncan Davidson, offers an impressive prize fund of £40,000.

An entry of 22 includes includes 2013 scorer Royale Knight. Trained by Dr Richard Newland, he is a dual Durham National victor and has been placed in both Scottish and Highland versions.

Harriet Graham’s Jedburgh raider Scotswell is holding his form well and this tenacious frontrunner was runner-up in the 2013 and 2014 Border Nationals.

Sandy Thomson has won the Kelso marathon for the last two years with Neptune Equester and he has aimed Harry The Viking at this year’s renewal.

The Greenlaw trainer has booked Selkirk jockey Rachael McDonald.

The Scotty Brand Veterans handicap chase, sponsored by Ronnie Bartlett, is the final qualifier of the series. Desert Cry, co-owned by Sunderland FC manager David Moyes, was a cracking second at Haydock recently.

Champion trainer Paul Nicholls has a few entries on the card and they include Aerial, who fell three out when travelling strongly in the Perth Gold Cup.

Norrie Kristoffersen, of Kristoffersen Carpets and Flooring, sponsored last year for the first time and returns to support the concluding novices’ handicap hurdle race.

Lucinda Russell has entered Pulpitarian and Rivabodiva, who were second and third respectively on their most recent outings. Teri trainer Iain Jardine will be hoping this longer trip will help his mare Daytripper lose her maiden tag.

Sunday also sees the return of the popular family-themed day, with festive activities.

The next meeting will be The Festive Fling on Thursday, December 29. Gates will open at 10am, with the first race off at noon.