New Year gathering goes under starter’s orders

Sam Coltherd winning the opener on DARSI DANCER his first PtPt ride at the Ratcheugh Racing Club PtPt at Alnwick 14th Dec 14'Photograph by John Grossick 0771 046 1723
Sam Coltherd winning the opener on DARSI DANCER his first PtPt ride at the Ratcheugh Racing Club PtPt at Alnwick 14th Dec 14'Photograph by John Grossick 0771 046 1723
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A £30,000 veteran chase is the feature race on the Kelso card for the first meeting of the New Year on Sunday.

Grand National runner-up Cappa Bleu holds an entry for the Royal Caledonian Hunt veterans’ handicap chase, run over 3m 2f, at 2.10pm.

Trained in Wales by Evan Williams, he has only appeared once since his second to the Ryan Mania-ridden Aurora’s Encore at Aintree.

Another interesting contender is Carruthers, bred by the late Lord Oaksey and trained by his son-in law Mark Bradstock. He finished third in a cross-country chase at Cheltenham last month.

Gates open at 10.40am with the first race – the EBF Stallions National Hunt novices’ hurdle, sponsored by the Trustees of the European Breeders Fund – off at 12.40pm.

The race has attracted a 20-strong entry, many coming off the back of wins, including Queen Of Milan, trained at Bonchester Bridge by Iain ‘Scobie’ Jardine. This mare also has winning point-to-point form in Ireland. Another possible contender is Brian Ellison’s Gone Forever, a winner on his hurdle debut at Market Rasen.

Racecourse director Robert Miller-Bakewell sponsors the concluding Hunter Chase under the name of his Eildon Hill Stables. John O’Shea has entered both Best Served Cold and Cottage Oak, while Tim Easterby’s wife Sarah is represented by the ex-Oliver Sherwood inmate Camden. Local interest includes Darsi Dancer, trained at Selkirk by Stuart Coltherd, who gave his 16-year-old son Sam a first win when scoring at last month’s Alnwick point-to-point. Galashiels-based Sylvia Scott pins her hopes on course-and-distance victor Douglas Julian.

Robin Lees, Borders hotelier, sponsors the mares novice hurdle under the name of The Newcastle Arms, Coldstream. Nicky Richards has his horses in great form after a four-timer at Ayr last Friday, and the Greystoke trainer has pencilled in Glingerburn and Bay Wing. Last year’s Grand National-winning trainer Dr Richard Newland has entered Ebony Express who is unbeaten in both starts over hurdles.

The juvenile hurdle race (3.10pm) has attracted Mantou, trained in Newmarket by John Ferguson, who enjoyed a debut win over hurdles at Catterick last month. Alan Swinbank will also fancy the chances of Deep Resolve after his two wins at Hexham.

The Kelso team will be on hand at the club office for anyone wishing to renew their annual membership, which offers 70 days’ racing and other benefits to all metal badge holders.