Kelso course stages its richest day of the year

KELSO racecourse stages its richest meeting of the season on Sunday, with the feature £26,000 John Smiths Scottish Border National, part of a seven-race card offering more than £76,000 prize money.

Hawick handler Willie Amos bids for glory in the feature race with stable star Lie Forrit part of a quality field.

The gelding has a good record at his local track and could also be seen in action over the festive period in the Welsh National at Chepstow.

Definite Appeal, trained by Otterburn stud owner Susan Corbett, is also entered in both of the afternoon’s big chases, after a game victory at Newcastle. Misstree Dancer could make the long journey up from Devon after wining her last two races at Hereford and Fakenham for Nick Williams who landed the 2009 Scottish Borders National with L’Aventure.

2012 marks the fifth running of the Scottish Borders National under the John Smiths banner and Jon Threadgall of Heineken UK Ltd commented: “We are delighted to continue with the sponsorship of Kelso’s most prestigious race.

“ It gives us a great opportunity to create brand awareness while at the same time, thanking a cross section of our clients and supporters.”

Persimmon Homes sponsor the £18,000 Champion Chase where Donald McCain’s 2011 Grand National hero Ballabriggs could be in for his third appearance at Kelso, although he also holds an entry in Saturday’s Becher Chase at Aintree.

Lucinda Russell has a quartet comprising Etxalar, Devotion To Duty, Blenheim Brook and impressive Carlisle winner Bold Sir Brian, while George Charlton’s four-time Kelso scorer Knockara Beau is another interesting entry.

Ronnie Bartlett, owner of Simonsig who won the Morebattle Hurdle at Kelso before going on to Grade 1 victories at Cheltenham and Aintree, sponsors the novice chase under his family business, Albert Bartlett – potato merchants.

The second race off at 12.55pm, is named after their Scotty Brand range and wide-margin Hexham winner Papamoa could bid for a follow-up for Kinneston trainer Nick Alexander.

Super Duty, trained by Kelso regular Donald McCain is due to go one better after finishing runner-up on his last three starts.

The third race, a two-mile handicap hurdle has been sponsored by Langholm trainer James Ewart and Tapeta synthetic surfaces.

The race has attracted a competitive field, including Master Murphy, who wasn’t disgraced in the 2011 Champion Bumper at Cheltenham. He is set to make his handicap debut for Northumberland handler Jane Walton. Hawick trainer Donald Whillans is represented by his mare Leith Walk, placed twice over longer trips at the Borders track

Adam Pringle of Border Facilities from Harlow Hill near Alnwick, sponsors the Novice Handicap Hurdle off at 12.25pm.

A massive entry of 41 includes recent 125-1 Hexham winner Gymdoli, trained at Selkirk by Rayson Nixon and bred by his wife Susan. Another last-time-out scorer is impressive Carlisle winner Morning Royalty trained at Cartmel by Jimmy Moffatt.

Property and business entrepreneur Kevin Oliver sponsors the mares’ novice hurdle race at 2.55pm. Ayrshire-based Irishman Ian Duncan has pencilled this in for his home-bred Golden Sparkle. Maggie Blue has shown some promise in bumpers and could make her hurdling debut for Bonchester Bridge trainer Iain ‘Scobie’ Jardine.

A new sponsor to Kelso, Aidan Gunning, supports the last race on the card – a National Hunt novices handicap hurdle run over three miles, three furlongs – on behalf of Northamptonshire-based Electricity Network Solutions.

The race has attracted a competitive entry, including Selkirk trainer Stuart Coltherd’s Talkin Sence, who has been lightly-raced since just getting touched off at the Perth Festival in April. The Rose Dobbin-trained Pyjama Game has gone close at Kelso in the past for his in-form Alnwick trainer.

As well as this bumper card the racecourse also has a fantastic ticket offer available on Sunday.

Anyone who purchased tickets in advance or on the day for the John Smiths Scottish Borders National meeting will gain entrance to the meeting on Saturday, December 29, for only £5. Simply take your member’s badge or paddock slip from Sunday back to the members’ office on December 29 and exchange for £5 admission.

This Sunday, gates open at 10.25 am, with the first race off at 12.25pm.