Delicious dessert at Kelso to follow National feast

Diamond Brig won the Buccleuch Cup at Kelso in 2018 (library photo by Alan Raeburn)
Diamond Brig won the Buccleuch Cup at Kelso in 2018 (library photo by Alan Raeburn)

Executives at Kelso Racecourse hope history can repeat itself this Monday, when all three of the trainers responsible for Scotland’s Grand National runners have entries at the Borders track.

Two years ago, One for Arthur paraded at Kelso two days after his Aintree success.

Lucinda Russell, who is preparing One For Arthur for a historic second victory, has entries in six of the seven races on Kelso’s programme.

Riverbodiva and Sammy B have live chances in the second race, the Duncan & Margaret Sinclair Memorial Handicap Hurdle, while Royal Reserve seeks to win more prize money for the Doddie Weir Foundation in the final race of the day, the Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle at 5.10pm.

The bookies rate Lakeview Lad, a previous Kelso winner, as Scotland’s best chance of lifting the Grand National trophy.

Nick Alexander, who trains the grey gelding for owner Trevor Hemmings, could be represented in the opening race on Buccleuch Cup Day by Elvis Mail, who ran well to be placed in the Grade 2 Premier Hurdle at Kelso last month.

The Fife-based trainer has also entered course specialist Landecker, a six-time winner at his favourite track, in the Duncan & Margaret Sinclair Memorial Hurdle.

Selkirk-based Stuart Coltherd saddles Captain Redbeard in the big race on Saturday.

He’ll be hot to trot following his victory in the Malcolm Jefferson Memorial Chase in February and a close third to Blue Flight in the Premier Steeplechase in March.

Coltherd could saddle Mrs Vonn in the Borders Carers Centre Handicap Chase, the third race on the programme at 3.10pm.

Despite other races having a greater prize fund, the traditional feature event of the day is the Buccleuch Cup Maiden Hunterchase, open only to horses which are registered with northern hunts and point-to-point associations.

As many of these horses hail from amateur yards, the industry’s equine influenza biosecurity protocols will require them to have nasal swabs tested before attending the races.

The track has, therefore, taken the unusual step of offering £100 appearance money for all runners in the race which fail to win any prize money, to help offset the owners’ costs.

The best quality field will line up for the Hunter REIM Ltd Handicap Steeplechase, where the 16 entries include Rock On Fruity and Squouateur (both trained by Ben Haslam) and Takingrisks (Nicky Richards), all of whom have an official handicap rating of 135 – the highest permitted under the race conditions.

Another Venture, a cosy winner at Plumpton last month, is rated just three pounds lower for Kim Bailey, who has an excellent record with his raiders from the south.

Racegoers could be forgiven about having a feeling of déjà vu about the Manners Le Garcon D’Or Handicap Steeplechase, as the first four home last year could all re-oppose. Charlie Snow Angel (Sandy Forster), Halcyon Days (Rebecca Menzies), Mumgos Debut (Lucinda Russell) and John Williams (Sandy Thomson) are all entered again.

The gates open at noon and the first race will get under way at 2.10pm – hopefully just after a victory parade for a Scottish-trained Grand National winner.