Manchester United boss set for Kelso appearance

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SIR ALEX FERGUSON has been lured into his first venture in race sponsorship by the Borders’ own top-class horse racing venue, writes Hilary Mactaggart.

The Manchester United boss is backing the Injured Jockeys Fund Charity race that concludes the hugely popular Ladies’ Day on Sunday at Kelso race course.

And, if the Scots-born football legend returns from his trip to America in time, he will be on hand at the local track to make the winning presentations himself.

The charity race will round off the day at approximately 5.45pm and those competing include former Kelso clerk of the course Anthea Morshead and Alnwick trainer Rose Dobbin.

A competitive seven-race card has attracted a great entry to celebrate the end of the season, with gates opening at noon.

The first race comes under orders at 2.15pm, and will be preceded by Charles Owen pony racing at 1pm.

The opener is sponsored by Matt and Blackjack Racing. Makbullet, trained in Northumberland by Michael Smith, bids for a Kelso hat-trick, having struck in similar races in March and April, while Langholm’s James Ewart may give a debut to his ex-Irish pointer Croc An Aifrean.

The feature race of the day, at 3.30pm, is the John Smiths handicap chase, run for the Wilfred & Patricia Crawford memorial trophy. Or De Grugy has four Kelso wins to his name and runs from Nick Alexander’s Fife yard.

The Kings Own Scottish Borders (KOSB) are the racecourse’s longest-standing sponsors and has continued to support the novice handicap chase. Carters Rest is trained near Hawick by Iain ‘Scobie’ Jardine and he has been in the frame on his last two starts over fences so far.

Margaret and Dennis Coppola have been great supporters of the track, and the third race on the card, a novice hurdle, is sponsored in the name of their three grandchildren. Charlie Bucket, trained on the outskirts of Hawick by Donald Whillans ran one of his best races when a close second here in late December and could figure in this.

Adam Pringle of Border Facilities from Harlow Hill near Alnwick sponsors the novice handicap hurdle off at 4.25pm. Pas Trop Tard, trained in Cumbria by Maurice Barnes, stayed on nicely over course and distance recently on his comeback from a few months off.

The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards are long term sponsors at Kelso and are once again supporting the open hunter chase. The Rose Dobbin-trained Sierra Victor has winning form under rules and he could make his hunter chase debut for the MS Borders Racing Club

The final race on the card is sponsored by Colin and Diane Robertson to mark a family celebration. Jedburgh’s Harriet Graham combines clerking duties at Perth and Musselburgh with training and could saddle Glorybelucky.

To round off the day, the course will host a “Fine Fillies Charity Race”. Twelve lady riders, associated with the British Horse Racing scene, will line up in the 1m6f Charity race, to raise funds for The Injured Jockeys Fund and The House that Jack Built, which aims to build a rehabilitation centre for injured jockeys in Malton.

The first 200 ladies through the gate will receive free goody bags, and there are prizes for the best-dressed lady and the best-dressed couple.