RACING comes under orders at Kelso on Sunday, when the Borders tracks opens its gates for the new National Hunt season with an exciting card, preceded by the ever- popular Border principals race.
Such is the popularity of the contest – which in 2011 was won by Grand National hero and former Braw Lad Ryan Mania - it has had to be balloted to the maximum 14 runners.
Gates open at noon, with the first race off at 2pm, and head groundsman Brian Meikle reports the ground as on the fast side of good.
Feature race of the afternoon is the NSPCC School Service Intermediate Hurdle at 3.55pm, which is sure to attract a strong entry with the additional £5,000 Sunday bonus taking the total prize fund to £8,000.
Haddington-based Ray and Anita Green again generously sponsor the race, where Irish trainer Patrick Griffin has pencilled in Maggio, a consistent contender at Kelso.
New Mum Rose Dobbin has entered Purcell’s Bridge from her Northumberland yard, while another to catch the eye is Donald McCain’s Witness In Court.
Radio Borders will broadcast live from the course throughout the afternoon and have several innovative competitions and ideas promoting the afternoon’s racing.
Station head, Lynsey Graham, will be on hand to judge the best turned out and present the prizes after the opening contest of the afternoon.
Dianne Sayer has entered a couple of old favourites, Cool Baranca and Endeavour, while top-rated entry is Donald McCain’s Blackwater King, who won a novice event over course and distance last December.
A group of highflying businessmen who love their Tweed fishing have been organised by Cornhill angler, Andrew Lee to sponsor a race in memory of their great friend, gillie and mentor, Tiger McElrath.
David Meek, landlord of Eyemouth’s Fleet Bar sponsor the Fleet Bar Eyemouth Handicap Chase.
Martin Todhunter’s Presenting Junior has been in great form over the summer with wins at Cartmel and Hexham and could complete for a hat-trick for his Shap stable. Scotland’s champion jumps trainer Lucinda Russell is represented by Shooting Times, home-bred by her Carlisle owners.
John and Fiona Urwin from Norham who first sponsored a race in 2010 have now made it an annual family get-together and support the two-mile Juvenile Hurdle.
Donald McCain has a strong hand with three entries - Dispour, Kitchapoly and Major Parkes. Brian Ellison may hold the ace card in Estinaad, who won on his hurdling debut at Perth last week.
There’s plenty of local interest in the 2m 2f Novices Handicap Hurdle at 4.45pm, with Borders trainers Sandy Thomson (Blue Kascade), George Bewley (Brae On), Alistair Whillans (Kirkaig), Harriet Graham (Maggie Blue) and Iain Jardine (Push Me) in the potential line-up.
Phil Kirby is in great form on the Flat and over jumps and the Middleham trainer could go close with Mr Mistopheles who was only denied by short-head at Sedgefield in August.
Tony Love’s Portobello roofing company City Roofing Ltd,who have been sponsored since 2008, generously continue with their support of the first Bumper of the season.
Dougie Costello has been riding winners on the Flat this summer and he has been booked for the ride on 66-1 Market Rasen bumper scorer King Of Strings by trainer Tim Walford.
Kelso recently launched a new website which can be viewed on www.kelso-races.co.uk and this provides on-line booking and clearly shows all availability. For further information contact the office on 01668 280800 and speak to Trish or Laura