ALTHOUGH dark clouds were gathering before the race meeting began, a dry and enjoyable afternoon was had by all who attended Gala Rig on Friday afternoon.
Unfortunately, a shower of rain one hour before the first race put paid to picnics on the grass, but the large supporting crowd were nonetheless treated to a thrilling and incident-free day of first-class entertainment.
The committee are again to be congratulated on getting the proceedings off on time and ran the meeting like clockwork, which added to the enjoyment of a fun-filled afternoon for families and racing enthusiasts.
The opening race attracted five runners for the Licensed Victuallers 7-furlong handicap valued at £625.
Cruise Ship started off as favourite, but failed to live up to his billing and was never a danger. The Gambler led the runners to the bottom bend where Cruise Ship, in the rear, slipped and unseated his rider.
On the run up the hill young Gary Bowmont took Blindside to the front with a nice turn of foot and went clear, but Moodla Point, ridden by the in-form Gary Berridge, galvanised his mount and chased the leader, closing with every stride. In a thrilling finish the horses crossed over the line together and it took the judges several heart-stopping minutes before punters were told of the dead-heat decision.
Four runners went to post for the 1.5-mile Peatlaw Handicap, also valued at £625.
Rockstar, ridden by Gary Berridge, was the hot odds-on favourite, with Irish raider Fergies Boy also well supported. However, it was eventual winner Spring Tide, ridden by Bowmont, who led the field downhill at a steady canter before injecting some pace to sprint eight lengths clear at the bottom bend to take a clear lead up the home straight.
Rockstar gave chase in a two-horse race up the hill, but although closing the gap, had to settle for second place two lengths behind the winner with Blew trailing in third place and Fergies Boy a disappointing last a long way behind.
In the main event of the afternoon five entries were received for the Selkirk Golden Mile and Challenge Cup, donated by Colin Turnbull Shoe Repairs, valued at £1,375.
All runners had their supporters and bookies were kept busy as punters surged to get on before the off.
One Way set the early pace to the first bend with Tearoha, On the Edge, Just a Dream and Sam’s Secret in the rear all close behind.
Heading down the back straight, jockey Liam Berridge decided to take up the running and went to the front with Sam’s Secret, closely followed by his brother Gary riding Just a Dream.
Coming off the bend the two horses put daylight between the rest and began to fight it out up the hill for home. Just a Dream came alongside for a few strides then went on impressively to reclaim the prize for a second year for owner-trainer Neil Henderson, much to the delight of his Langholm supporters.
Four runners lined up for the 6-furlong Forest Handicap, valued at £625, with North Star and Footloose heavily backed. Eye Candy led the field to the bottom bend where Joe slipped and fell.
The remaining three runners lined up together across the track to battle up the hill towards the winning post. First to crack was Eye Candy, while North Star and Footloose began a duel to the line. In the closing stages Gary Berridge was able to edge Footloose in front and won by a comfortable length to seal his hat-trick for the meeting.