HIGHLAND Cathedral lifted the prestigious Buccleuch Cup in a drama-packed maiden hunter chase at Kelso on Monday.
Trained at Thropton in Northumberland by Jimmy Walton and ridden by his step-daughter, Catherine, the gelding avoided the first-fence melee, which quickly reduced the field by four in the Cazenove Capital Management contest.
Risk Assessment jumped right and fell, bringing down Amulree and Hawthorne Bay, while Dontpassgo was pushed wide, ending up jumping the adjacent hurdle.
Currently heading the Northern Area ladies’ point-to-point championship, Catherine rode a strong finish to hold the challenge of the heavily-backed Beau Traveller.
With two point-to-point victories to his credit, Highland Catherdral was completing a victorious hat-trick on his first run over regulation fences.
“He hasn’t always been the best jumper, so we’ve been doing some gymnastic jumping with him, which seems to have helped,” explained Catherine, who has worked at Ferdy Murphy’s Leyburn stable for the past three seasons.
Longest priced winner of the afternoon was 40-1 chance Surprise Vendor, which landed the opening Green Tree Hotel Peebles conditional jockeys handicap hurdle race for Selkirk trainer Stuart Coltherd and Jedburgh jockey Gary Rutherford. The field was soon strung out after a good early gallop, and as the main contenders bunched up three out, Coltherd’s six-year-old found plenty as he came home up the stand side. The winner appeared to relish the conditions and, 3lbs higher than when winning over course and distance in December, bounced back to his best.
Haddington jockey Campbell Gilles completed a quickfire double aboard Kai Broon and Makbullet.
A strong early gallop in the Princess Royal Trust for Carers handicap chase suited Kai Broon and Lucinda Russell’s charge provided the Milnathort stable with its second successive win in the race.
The five-year-old cruised home to take the spoils from Braddock Island, with Soul Magic from Harriet Graham’s Jedburgh stable taking third.
Gillies was back in the winner’s enclosure half-an-hour later after riding 2-1 chance Makbullet to win the Duncan Sinclair Memorial novice hurdle race.
Trained in Northumberland by Michael Smith, the grey held the challenge of 6-4 fav Boruler by a comfortable six lengths. Apolskapart finished third in the colours of Berwickshire owner John Stephenson.
Cumbrian trainer Nicky Richards has a good record at the track and saddled Malin Bay to take the Clelands Jaguar handicap hurdle race while Ayrshire handler Ian Duncan took the Virtuo Wealth Management Ltd novice chase with Inverlochy Lad.
Hawick jockey Wilson Renwick won the concluding SIS mares handicap hurdle race on Overyou, getting the better of long-time leader More Equity, bidding to defend his 2011 title.
The mare fell two out when in the lead at Hexham last time, so gained some consolation when taking the final race of the afternoon at another well-supported meeting.
“She isn’t very big but she’s honest and she stays well,” said winning trainer Chris Grant.
Racing returns to the Borders track next month for an evening meeting on Wednesday, May 2.
2.30 – SURPRISE VENDOR (G Rutherford) 40-1; 2, Endeavor 14-1; 3, Beidh Tine Anseo 2-1 fav. Nine ran. S Coltherd, Selkirk.
3.00 – INVERLOCHY LAD (D O’Regan) 17-2; 2, Bon N’You 11-8 fav; 3, Pena Dorada 4-1. Four ran. I Duncan, Ayrshire.
3.30 – KAI BROON (C Gillies) 11-10 fav; 2, Braddock Island 20-1; 3, Soul Magic 4-1.Five ran. Miss L Russell, Milnathort.
4.00 – MAKBULLET (C Gillies) 2-1; 2, Boruler 6-4 fav; 3, Apolskapart 8-1. 10 ran. M Smith, Northumberland.
4.30 – HIGHLAND CATHEDRAL (C Walton) 9-4 fav; 2, Beau Traveller 9-2; 3, Montauk Highway 9-2. 10 ran. J Walton, Northumberland.
5.00 – OVERYOU (W Renwick) 5-1; 2, More Equity 5-2 fav; 3, Stick Together 11-2. Six ran. C Grant, Billingham.