SACRE TOI produced an impressive display at Kelso on Saturday, with an emphatic victory in the Rutherford handicap chase for Langholm trainer James Ewart and local jockey Dale Irving.
The seven-year-old is in tremendous form, recording his fourth success this season, and scoring for the second time at the Borders track.
The 5-4 favourite cruised home 19 lengths clear of Endeavor, to lift the coveted Hamilton memorial trophy.
Former Braw Lad Ryan Mania, who rode the runner-up, was bidding for a quickfire double, having headed the previous Cyril Alexander memorial novices chase on the Sue Smith-trained No Planning.
The Galashiels jockey kicked for home two out, and came home 27 lengths clear of Gris Lord.
“He didn’t want that very, very heavy ground so we’ve had to be patient,” explained Yorkshire trainer Sue Smith, who was notching the first leg of a double.
“His best trip is two and a half and eventually he’ll get three,” she added.
On an afternoon when Borders jockeys accounted for five of the meeting’s seven races, Hawick-born Wilson Renwick landed the feature totepool Mobile Text Tote To 89660 Premier chase.
He rode Always Right to take the spoils by a head in a thrilling finish with long-time leader Garleton.
Sedgefield owner/trainer John Wade has the Scottish National at Ayr in mind for his charge.
“He had a few wind problems last year, but it’s great to see him back, and the Scottish National is the aim,” he explained.
Jedburgh jockey Gary Rutherford made every yard of the running on Grey Area to win the Kingdom Taverns handicap hurdle race for former Northern Area men’s point-to-point champion Tristan Davidson.
Tartan Snow stayed on strongly under a well-judged ride by Hawick jockey Jamie Hamilton to head the concluding CGA Foxhunter Trial hunter chase.
Trained at Selkirk by Stuart Coltherd, the 13-year-old resolutely stuck to his task, to get the better of Supreme Builder.
After taking the second race on a good card, Sue Smith completed a double when 16-1 chance Mwaleshi got the better of 4-5 fav Eduard to clinch the totepool.com Premier Kelso hurdle.
“He’s a very tough horse, the toughest horse I’ve ridden,” said winning jockey Jonathon England.
“We’ve turned in, the other horse has come to my quarters, and he’s just picked up again.
“It was very soft over two and a half at Haydock two starts ago and Musselburgh didn’t suit him last time,” he added.
The opening Terry Frame Joiners novices’ hurdle race also produced an exciting finish, with victory going to Supreme Asset, who took advantage of a last flight mistake by the Oliver Sherwood-trained favourite Ubaldo Des Menhies.
“He’s just a baby and he doesn’t take his racing great at the moment,” said winning trainer Donald McCain.
“He’s going to make a lovely staying chaser,” he added.
Racing returns to Kelso on Saturday, March 23.
1.55 – SUPREME ASSET (J Maguire) 4-1; 2, Ubaldo Des Menhies 1/2F; 3, Ballybroe 66/1. 14 ran. D McCain, Cholmondeley.
2.30 – NO PLANNING (R Mania) evs fav; 2, Gris Lord 25/1 ;3, Houston Dynimo 7/1. Six ran. Mrs S Smith, Bingley.
3.05 – SACRE TOI (D Irving) 5/4F; 2, Endeavor 12/1; 3, Lord Of Drums 7/2. Eight ran. J Ewart, Langholm.
3.40 – MWALESHI (J England) 16/1; 2, Eduard 4/5F; Brick Red 15/8. Six ran. Mrs S Smith.
4.25 – ALWAYS RIGHT (W Renwick) 20/1; 2, Garleton 14-1; 3, Ballabrigs 17-2. Eight ran. J Wade, Sedgefield.
4.50 – GREY AREA (G Rutherford) 7/2; 2, Royal Deal 8/1; 3, Solis 14/1. 12 ran. T Davidson, Cumbria.
5.25 –TARTAN SNOW (J Hamilton) 9-4; 2, Supreme Builder 33-1; 3, Ocarina 8-1. Eight ran. S Coltherd, Selkirk.