Calendar concludes at Kelso with Festive Fling

Bring the curtain down on 2016 with a day at Kelso races on Thursday.
Bring the curtain down on 2016 with a day at Kelso races on Thursday.

Kelso Racecourse is staging its ever-popular race meeting between Christmas and New Year with tomorrow’s (Thursday) Festive Fling fixture.

Gates will be opening at 10am and the first race is due off at noon.

A very competitive seven-race card is headed by a race to highlight the Children’s Immunology Trust, which does such wonderful work for this deserving charity.

An extremely generous anonymous donor has provided the funds for this race and organised a fundraising brunch for supporters.

Alison Hamilton enjoys saddling runners at her local track and the Bonchester Bridge handler is expecting to be represented by Danehills Well, second in a hunter chase at Kelso in May.

Another possible is ex-Charlie Longsdon trained Cooper’s Friend, who is set to make his debut for Ayrshire trainer R. Mike Smith.

Peter Monteith was one of the great characters of Scottish racing and he’s remembered with the Monteith Memorial Handicap Steeple Chase which also commemorates Peter’s father, Colonel Willy.

The Monteith Family has generously sponsored this race, together with Dennis Coppola, to continue this very fitting memorial. Retrieve The Stick was last of five finishers in this 12 months ago and his trainer, Malcolm Jefferson, should go close to winning this time with Nautical Twilight. The Malton raider was fifth at Kelso’s opening September meeting on his only previous visit to the Borders track.

Simon Gillie of SPG Fire & Security Ltd, one of the most progressive firms in the Scottish Borders, has generously sponsored the 2m 2f Handicap Hurdle, which is likely to attract a very competitive field.

Malcolm Jefferson has enjoyed a golden autumn and he is having a go in this with Black Ivory, who is on a hat-trick following wins at Hexham and Uttoxeter in October and November.

Another very successful Borders company, Kilco (International) Ltd from Lockerbie, returns to sponsor for the second time. Gerry McGladery, principal of this innovative chemical manufacturer and distributor, sponsors the 3m2f Handicap Chase, which is a qualifier for the Challenger Series with the final at Haydock in the Spring.

Lucinda Russell was second in this last year with Presenting Flight and she is hoping to go one better with Itstimeforapint, who was a cracking third in the Borders National recently. Stuart Coltherd had a pre-Christmas winner at Ayr and the Selkirk trainer is aiming 2014 Kelso scorer Doubledisdoubledate at this.

The first race on the card, a 2m 6½ f ‘National Hunt’ Maiden Hurdle, is sponsored by the Martin and Dun families to celebrate the joint 18th birthdays of Samantha and Rebecca, and the girls are sure to have a tremendous party.

Geoff and Elspeth Adam kindly sponsor the 2m Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle, a race that Nick Alexander won last year with Presenting Rose, and will be keen to keep the prize at his Kinneston yard.

But Donald Whillans had a 50/1 winner at Ayr before Christmas and said he will be running hurdling debutant Paper Roses from his Hawick yard as she bids to build on an excellent third in a bumper at Kelso last month.

The Amateur Jockeys’ Association has generously sponsored the last race of the day, a 2m 6½ f Amateur Riders Handicap Hurdle. Ailizee De Janeiro was a well-backed favourite when second for Lucinda Russell in 2015 and her intended entry, 11-year- old Bescot Springs, has already won at Hexham this backend.

Kelso Races’ next gathering will be the New Year Meeting on Sunday, January 15, with gates opening at 10.40am and the first race scheduled for 12.40pm.