With the Cheltenham Gold Cup next month, and Aintree’s Grand National also on the horizon, Kelso Racecourse includes an exciting trial on next Thursday’s Morebattle card.
The race is run in memory of former Kelso director and patron Ivan Straker – a fitting tribute to the man who saved the Grand National.
A genuine Gold Cup trial, it will also benefit those considering the Grand National – run two days after weights are announced for the Aintree marathon, so carrying no penalties.
Kruzhlinin, owned by St Boswells couple Paul and Clare Rooney, could bid for a course hat-trick for trainer Donald McCain.
Sue Smith’s No Planning – the mount of in-form Galashiels jockey Ryan Mania – is another possible contender. Imperial Vic finished third in the Scottish Borders National, and has solid form over this trip, for Berwick owner John Stephenson.
Timeform sponsor the Morebattle Hurdle, which could attract several genuine Champion Hurdle possibles.
Jimmy Moffat’s impressive Morning Royalty finished third in last year’s contest to Duke Of Navan, trained by Nicky Richards, who is another possible. Orsippus was a late non-runner in last year’s Morebattle Hurdle and his trainer Michael Smith may try again with his Grade 1 Aintree scorer. Ann Hamilton’s Runswick Royal was a faller at Musselburgh on Sunday and he has the form to go well in this, having been a close second in Grade 1 company at Aintree last spring.
The first race, at 1.50pm, is sponsored by racecourse farrier David Merry. Tim Easterby may be tempted to enter winning Flat recruit Choisan, who was third to useful Meadowcroft Boy at Carlisle in December.
Rose Dobbin’s Politeness could improve when tackling less testing ground.
A group of Kelso Annual Members support the novices’ limited handicap chase where the Donald McCain-trained Kie could renew rivalry with Lucinda Russell’s Quito Du Tresor. Kie’s stablemate Swift Arrow, carrying the colours of Lauder-based owners, Colin and April Strang-Steel, has won three times at Kelso and is fresh from a valuable recent strike at Musselburgh.
The Amateur Jockeys Association back an amateur riders handicap chase which potentially is a Kim Muir Trial for the Cheltenham Festival. With an £11,000 prize fund, this race is sure to attract a competitive field, and could include the Tim Fitzgerald trained Mr Syntax, or Dianne Sayer’s More Equity, who is due to retire as a brood mare at the end of the season.
Last year’s hero Rolecarr could be back to defend his crown for Northumberland handler Ann Hamilton.
The Country Gentlemen’s Association, who sponsor the prestigious Foxhunters at Cheltenham, have sponsored a hunter chase.
A cracking entry could include Stuart Coltherd’s 100-1 Aintree foxhunters’ hero Tartan Snow who was due to run at last month’s abandoned fixture. Briony Ewart may pencil in winning Kelso hurdler Captain Americo, while John Wade’s four-time course winner Always Right could be a real force, along with Galashiels raider Moscow Menace, a late absentee at Musselburgh on Sunday.
The European Breeders Fund sponsor the concluding Mares open bumper at 4.50pm.