KELSO Racecourse breaks new ground today (Thursday), opening its gates for the first time between Christmas and New Year.
The inaugural fixture celebrates with an exciting seven-race card as well as a festive feast of admission offers for all race-goers.
Those who bought entrance badges for the race meeting on Sunday, December 4, will gain admission for just £5 if they present their paddock slip or member’s badge on arrival at the gate.
All students will also pay only £5 on production of a valid NUS card.
The racecourse will also be opened into a single enclosure at a price of £13.
While entrance is reduced, the quality of the card remains ever-high.
Gates open at 10am with the first race off at noon.
This opening National Hunt maiden hurdle sees Hawick jockeys Callum and Ewan Whillans both in action – Callum riding Mini the Minx for father Donald, and Ewan aboard Velsesia, trained in Yorkshire by Christopher Wilson.
The Ashleybank Investments Reg and Betty Tweedie novice chase is sponsored by David Stevenson to commemorate the contribution Reg Tweedie gave to Kelso Races for more than 20 years as chairman and patron.
With just three declared by the 10am deadline yesterday, the two-mile, six-and-a-half-furlong chase was reopened.
Top performer Lie Forrit, trained near Hawick by Willie Amos, will be the one to beat be as he bids to build on an impressive chasing debut success at Kelso on December 4.
Amos said: “He’s come out of his race very well. I was over the moon with his win after such a long lay-off and it was a great start because there are plenty of big races to dream about in the future.”
Opponents include Moon Indigo, trained by John Wade and ridden by Hawick jockey Wilson Renwick, and the Lucinda Russell-trained Bold Sir Brian, a winner last time out.
The third race on the card is sponsored to celebrate a special – and secret – birthday of a popular local businessman.
Jockey-turned-trainer Iain Jardine sends out La Bacouetteuse from his Bonchester Bridge base, while Jedburgh jockey Gary Rutherford rides Talkin Sence for Selkirk farmer Stuart Coltherd.
The feature handicap chase on the card is at 1.35pm and has attracted eight runners.
Course and distance winner Bob’s Dream carries the hopes of Willie Amos, while Storm Surge could be worthy of note, in the hands of Scotland’s only professional lady jockey, Lucy Alexander.
Hexham and Perth victor Cabbyl Doo is another contender from Jimmy Moffat’s stable.
The Maitland-Carew family have had a long association with Kelso Races and are also celebrating a special birthday at the course. Their race has attracted one of the largest fields with 12 runners.
Hawick farmer George Bewley has his horses in good form and Brian Hughes takes the ride on Inoogoo. Meanwhile, Political Paddy is ridden by Galashiels jockey Ryan Mania for Selkirk permit-holder Rayson Nixon.
The penultimate chase on the card sees seven go to post, including the Lucinda Russell-trained Badger Foot, ridden by Grant Cockburn from Jedburgh.
Super Ally bids for a hat-trick under Richie McGrath, while Brian Harding rides Royal Mackintosh for Alan Mactaggart.
The final seventh race off at 3.20pm has attracted a competitive field of nine.
Steve Knight of the Tote will be on hand to present winning connections with their mementos after what promises to be a competitive race.
Eurohunter won here last time for Berwick owner John Stephenson, ridden this time by on-form Lucy Alexander, while Open de l’Isle carries the hopes of Langholm trainer James Ewart.
For further information on race-day packages – which are available from £40 per person for today’s meeting – as well as advanced booking discounts and ticket offers, visit www.kelso-races.co.uk or call the racing office on 01668 280 800. Weather and going reports will be frequently updated on Facebook/KelsoRaces or on twitter @KelsoRacecourse.