Gathering of Grand National hopefuls for Kelso race card

One For Arthur (picture by Alan Raeburn)
One For Arthur (picture by Alan Raeburn)

Kelso Racecourse stages the most valuable fixture of the weekend this Saturday – attracting all three of Scotland’s 2019 Grand National contenders.

The high-quality field for the £60,000 Belhaven Brewery Premier Chase includes 2017 Aintree hero, One For Arthur, plus Captain Redbeard and Lake View Lad.

Captain Redbeard’s Selkirk trainer Stuart Coltherd said: “He’s in tip-top form and it’s a good race on our doorstep.

“He beat Definitly Red nicely at Kelso last time and the plan is to go at his stage.”

Nick Alexander, trainer of Lake View Lad, said: “It’s really exciting to have a Grand National horse in the yard.

“We will make a decision nearer the time, as he is ground dependent and a better horse when the going is soft.”

Borders-owned One For Arthur is trained by Lucinda Russell, who said: “Unlike on his way to winning the National, nothing has gone smoothly this time.

“He schooled on Saturday morning and we are pleased with him – but he is also ground dependent, and it wouldn’t be the worst thing if he went to Aintree without another run.”

The home team could face some stiff opposition from the south, including the Paul Nicholls-trained Black Corton, a prolific winner normally ridden by Bryony Frost, who holds a Cheltenham Gold Cup and Grand National entry.

The top-rated entry is Nicky Henderson’s Terrefort, twice a Grade 1 winner last season, who has a BHA mark of 159.

Paul Nicholls could have a strong say in the feature race of the day, the £50,000 Edinburgh Gin Premier Hurdle.

He’s three-handed at the entry stage, with smart juvenile Pic D’Orhy, Getaway Trump and Southfield Stone.

Nicholls won the event in 2016 with Le Prezien.

Five-time champion jumps trainer Nicky Henderson could saddle Dream Du Grand Val, a winner on Kelso’s Morebattle Hurdle card recently.

Aye Right represents Jedburgh trainer Harriet Graham, while Elvis Mail could run for the Kinneston stable of Nick Alexander.

The second race on the programme, a 2-mile Novices Steeplechase, is named for Nick Alexander’s late father Cyril, and was won by the stable’s Clan Legend when the race was last run in 2017. There’ll be no Kinneston runner in this year’s renewal but neighbouring Lucinda Russell could run dual Kelso winner Alizee De Janeiro. Russell could have numerous chances on the valuable card, which carries £163,000 of prize money, including the J. P McManus-owned Grand Morning in the final race of the day, a £12,000 handicap hurdle.

Twice a late withdrawal recently, this could be the ideal opening for a horse who completed a hat-trick last spring. Nicky Richards’ Glittering Love has a more recent winning sequence as he struck for the third successive time at Ayr in early February.

The gates open at 11.30am on Saturday and the first race is due off at 1.40pm.