PEDDLERS Cross heads for Cheltenham with his unbeaten record intact, after winning Kelso’s feature Victor Chandler Morebattle hurdle race last Thursday.
Jockey Jason Maguire always had the gelding handily placed, and took command at the last, cruising home 11 lengths clear of Bygones of Brid.
The winner has been off the track for 82 days since winning the Fighting Fifth Hurdle, and heads for the Festival’s Stan James Champion Hurdle next month.
“Jason said he travelled well and went to the front like a dream,” said winning trainer Donald McCain, “although halfway up the run-in he started to look at the stand.
“He’ll come on a touch for the run,” he added.
“He’s been getting a little stale at home, so I’m glad to finally get a run into him.”
After losing four meetings over the winter, racing made a welcome return to the Borders track where racegoers enjoyed a competitive afternoon’s sport.
Bonchester Bridge-based Simon Shirley-Beavan recorded a local success in the Connolly’s Red Mills Horse Feeds open hunters’ chase, where Quotica de Poyans led from pillar to post.
The gelding was challenged from the last by Optimistic Harry, and jockey Chris Dawson had to battle hard to claim victory on the favourite.
General Striker, trained at Selkirk by Lesley Coltherd for St Boswells owner Robert Miller-Bakewell, finished third.
George Charlton saddled 8-1 chance Bogside to head the opening Kelso Members’ novices hurdle race, where 16 went to post.
Graham Lee reinforced his standing as the course’s top jockey when bringing home Circus Clown to land the Oswald Hughes handicap hurdle race for Renfrewshire trainer Jim Goldie.
The winner won a competitive handicap hurdle race at Ayr recently, and defied a 7lbs rise to take the spoils, coming home some three lengths clear of the well-fancied Willie Hall from Willie Amos’s Hawick stable, with Texas Holdem third for Northumberland handler Michael Smith.
The John Wade-trained Always Right took the Lloyd Vaderstad handicap chase under a confident ride by Brian Hughes.
Well supported throughout the morning, the gelding made light of his rivals, running wide in search of better ground.
Third was Hockenheim, ridden by Jonathon Bewley for his father George, who trains near Bonchester Bridge.
Premier Sagas enjoyed a comfortable success in the Timeform Festival Trial novices’ chase, cruising clear of his rivals in the hands of Dougie Costello.
Racing concluded with a 14-strong EBF/DBS mares’ bumper, won in convincing style by 40-1 chance Toubeera.
A half-sister to a bumper winner, she cruised home under Sam Thomas, to the delight of Northumberland trainer Michael Smith.
Racing returns to Kelso on Saturday, March 5.