Hazel’s principal mission is to make course as safe as possible

Kelso Races: Newly instated Clerk of the Course Hazel Peplinski (centre) looks forward to the new season with Suzanne Henry (Galashiels Principal) and Brian Meikle (Head Groundsman).
Kelso Races: Newly instated Clerk of the Course Hazel Peplinski (centre) looks forward to the new season with Suzanne Henry (Galashiels Principal) and Brian Meikle (Head Groundsman).

KELSO Racecourse’s new season opens on Sunday, October 2, with the very popular Family Day which features the Borders Principals’ Race.

And the first Sunday meeting will see Hazel Peplinski assume her new role of clerk of the course in place of Anthea Morshead, who has relocated to the south of England.

A familiar face around the Scottish racing circuit, Peplinski has been clerking at Hamilton and stood in at Ayr last winter.

She is from a family steeped in racing history, with both her brothers riding on the northern point to point circuit.

She told TheSouthern: “It is very exciting to be asked to join the Kelso team as clerk of the course. Everyone involved at that track is very passionate about their National Hunt racing and rightly proud of their fabulous track in the heart of the Borders.

“Head groundsman Brian Meikle has been brilliant at explaining to me how he prepares the course for the start of the year and how fresh ground is saved for the feature meetings later in the season. I have been round the course a few times in recent weeks and it is certainly looking in tremendous nick.”

Hazel’s role involves co-ordinating the advance communication to trainers about the prevailing going conditions, weather forecasts and course set-up for each meeting.

On the raceday itself, further communication to the horsemen on the going conditions is followed by co-ordinating the stewards and contingency services.

She added: “Safety of both horse and rider is an absolute top priority and nothing is left to chance. A quiet day is a good day for a clerk.”

Her first test comes a week on Sunday when 14 Borders principals are scheduled to line up and take part in the five-furlong sprint for glory, with participants from Kelso, Jedburgh, Musselburgh and Duns among those determined to take home the prize won last year by Langholm’s Graeme Murray.

With the Flying Fillies charity race taking place on Kelso Races’ Ladies Day, and Hayley Turner becoming the first female jockey to win a Group One race in the July Cup – which she has since followed up by also scoring in the Group One Nunthorpe Stakes, this summer has seen a real resurgence in female jockeys.

So, the pressure is on for the girls to keep this run of good form going in the race, which has only seen one previous female winner when Jennifer Brown took the title for Yetholm in 2007.

Suzanne Henry (Galashiels), Laura Robson (Peebles), Gillian Smith (Lockerbie) and Adele Munro (Penicuick) will be aiming to emulate that feat and hope that Girl Power can win on the day.

The racecourse opens at noon, first race is at 2pm and the Borders Principals race will take place before racing at 1.30pm.

Previous winners

2004: Clark Scott (Jedburgh)

2005: Dave Anderson (Galashiels)

2006: David Crawford (Melrose)

2007: Jennifer Brown (Yetholm)

2008: Ben Graham (Hawick)

2009: Jamie Richardson (Hawick)

2010: Graeme Murray (Langholm)