New Year racing comes under orders at Kelso on Sunday, with the first race of a competitive seven-race card off at 12.40pm.
Gates open at 10.40am, and groundsman Brian Meikle is optimistic the fixture will go ahead if the weather remains decent.
Feature race is the Allan Clark Retirement handicap chase at 2.10pm, which has attracted entries from southern trainers Venetia Williams (Bennys Mist), Nigel Twiston-Davies (Minella Reception), Charlie Mann (Morney Wing) and David Pipe (Top Wood). Langholm-based James Ewart is double-handed with Sa Suffit and impressive recent Kelso scorer Lord Wishes.
First race of the afternoon is the British Stallion Studs National Hunt novice hurdle, sponsored by the European Breeders Fund, represented by Susan Corbett of Girsonfield Stud.
Takingrisks, who was left clear at the last at Kelso’s final meeting of 2015, received the 1,000th bag of carrots presented by Colin and Ruth McGrath, Nicky Richards’ Greystoke raider could be back for another bag on Sunday. Iain Jardine’s Sevenballs Of Fire, runner-up to Takingrisks, could also be in the line-up again.
The European Breeders Fund share the second race with the Thoroughbred Breeders Association, represented by Tim Finch from Jedburgh. It is restricted to mares as part of the drive by the British Horseracing Authority and Kelso Races to encourage more mares to be put in training and kept in training before going to stud.
Always Resolute, trained at Malton by Brian Ellison, made an impressive wining debut over hurdles last month. Hawick’s Alistair Whillans could be represented by Red Story, fourth over course and distance last month.
Anderson’s Butchers, the award winning Butchers from North Berwick, support the fifth race. Sandy Thomson recently enjoyed success down at Cheltenham with his stable star Seeyouatmidnight and the Greenlaw trainer has pencilled in Kilquiggan. Recent Exeter third Admiral Blake could be a rare course runner for West Country-based Laura Young.
Racecourse caterers, Peter and Gillian Allan, sponsor the £5,000 juvenile hurdle.
Kelso’s first hunter chase of the season is The Eildon Hill Stables open hunters’ chase, sponsored by Robert Miller-Bakewell. Ex-pointer Cave Hunter has course winning form in the spring for Hawick’s Wendy Hamilton, as has Wayupinthesky, trained by Wendy’s brother-in-law Gavin. Last year’s winner Nowurhurlin is also among a strong entry.