KALAHARI King will make his seasonal debut at Kelso on Saturday, when Ferdy Murphy’s charge contests the £15,000 feature Mayfield Restaurant Handicap Chase, writes Hilary Mactaggart.
The gelding’s main target this season will be a return to the Cheltenham Festival in May to contest the Ryanair Chase.
“He’s a marvellous horse to own, and to be placed at four successive Cheltenham Festivals is a remarkable achievement,” enthused Neil Morgan, husband of owner Julie.
“He spent the summer at our farm in Derbyshire, and really thrived while he was here. We believe he went back to Wynbury (Ferdy Murphy’s yard) better than he has been for two or three years. It’s almost like he’s getting younger,” added Neil.
“The plan is to start at Kelso in the 2m1f Mayfield Restaurant Limited Handicap Chase, and the next target will probably be the Grade 2 Peterborough Chase at Huntington,” he explained.
Entries include the ex-Paul Nicholls-trained Tchico Polos, now with Lucinda Russell. while Nicholls himself is represented by Take The Breeze and Langholm’s James Ewart has entered stable star Sa Suffit and Vosges.
Persimmon Homes sponsor the £12,000 handicap chase, the third race on the card.
The race has been pencilled in for Skippers Brig, owned by Langholm-based Ashleybank Investments and trained by Nicky Richards.
Skippers Brig won the Premier Chase on his only previous visit to Kelso before finishing a creditable ninth in the Grand National at Aintree.
Malcolm Jefferson may go for the hat-trick with The Panama Kid after his wins at Perth and Kelso.
The Frank Flannigan Skip Hire and Border Skip Hire Handicap Hurdle race will see Hawick-based former jockey Iain ‘Scobie’ Jardine enter Carters Rest, a close fourth at Kelso on October 2.
Others representing the region are Cassius from Bruce Mactaggart’s Greendale yard and Inoogoo from George Bewley’s nearby Bonchester Bridge base.
David Logan again sponsors the novice handicap chase under the name of the Ship Inn in Dalkeith.
Stuart Coltherd’s Selkirk raider Paddys Unyoke is an interesting contender as he was runner-up twice over fences at Kelso in March 2010.
Ray Green’s Super Ally, trained by Andrew Parker, bids to add to his win on Kelso’s opening card of the autumn.
The Premier Traffic Management National Hunt Novices Hurdle sees Sandy Thomson, based at Lambden, near Greenlaw, represented by Mini Beck who has been second three times in previous visits to his local course.
In the biggest entry of the card at 31, Ferdy Murphy has pencilled in Jaws, an encouraging fourth on his jumps debut at Kelso three weeks ago.
Sponsor Graeme Todd and his friends will judge the best turned-out horse for the £6,000 handicap hurdle which has attracted a lot of Borders interest including Bollin Fiona (Donald Whillans), Political Paddy (Rayson Nixon), and Scotswell (Harriet Graham).
Scotswell has already won twice this term for his Jedburgh trainer, while Bollin Fiona carries the colours of her Hawick trainer’s father Chas.
County Durham-based John Wade, who now has around 70 horses in training, has pencilled in Otto Quercus for the Ferneyhill Handicap Chase.
Duke Of Malfi could make his first appearance for Harriet Graham since arriving from Lucinda Russell’s stable.
Meanwhile, Kelso Races and Girsonfield Stud have teamed up to give thoroughbred breeders in the Borders and north Northumberland a treat before racing at 11am when Susan Corbett of the Otterburm-based stud will be parading her three most popular stallions Bahri, Millkom and Ferrule.
Kelso’s seven-race card comes under orders at 12.25pm.