Countryside jaunt for Political Paddy

RACING returns to Kelso after a months break, next Wednesday with Countryside Race Evening – the first of three meetings in May, writes Hilary Mactaggart.

A competitive six-race card is headed by The Simpsons Malt 150th Anniversary Handicap Steeple Chase.

Selkirk handler Rayson Nixon intends entering his two-time course winner and Kelso regular Political Paddy, while Lucinda Russell is looking at this for Badger Foot, who won over course and distance last May for Scotland’s leading jumps trainer.

The first race on the card is sponsored by Ray and Anita Green – fresh from Merigo’s amazing second win in the Scottish National at Ayr.

The Maiden Hurdle, off at 5.45pm, may see Overpriced a possible for Maurice Barnes, who won the Scottish National 40 years ago on Quick Reply, trained by the late Harry Bell.

Inoogoo represents Hawick-based George Bewley and he was favourite when falling at Kelso in late December.

The second race off at 6.20pm is backed by the tracks race card producers Timeform.

This would be ideal for Lucinda Russell’s March Kelso scorer Degas Art, who is now on a four-timer for his sporting connections.

James Ewart could also be aiming Aikman at this – the Langholm raider won over hurdles on his only previous course visit.

Waverley TBS are new sponsors to the Borders track and has lent its support to a competitive two-mile, six-and-a-half-furlong contest. Hawaii Klass has pulled up on his last two starts and Border trainer Alistair Whillans will be looking for a change of luck from his seven-year-old.

Crummock (Scotland) Ltd sponsor the two mile two furlong handicap hurdle.

Rose Dobbin is due a change of luck and it might just arrive in the shape of Groovy Dancer, owned by Ray Green.

Other entries may come in the shape of Just Stripe (Rayson Nixon) and Beidh Tine Anseo and Urban Kode (Lucinda Russell).

Robert Miller-Bakewell has sponsored the Eildon Hill Stables Novice Hunter Chase. Montauk Highway, trained by former leading amateur Jackie Williamson (née Thurlow), could be an interesting contender as he was a cracking third in the recent Buccleuch Cup. Clive Storey’s Yetholm-trained Anotherbuck may also be in the line-up along with Vicki Dobbin’s Hurlstone Tower.

The first race is off at 5.45pm and gates open at 3.45pm.

There are a range of additional entertainments scheduled to take place throughout the evening, from a foxhound show to the Drakes of Hazard Display team, the Border Hound Trailing Association and a parade of foxhounds.

z Galashiels jockey Ryan Mania was being hailed a local hero on Saturday after coming second in the Scottish Grand National on board 25/1 outsider Auroras Encore less than 24 hours after being installed as the 2012 Braw Lad. More on page 2.