Kelso racing is a matter of principals

A group of Kelso's Sunday riders.
A group of Kelso's Sunday riders.

A field of 14 will be battling out the 14th running of the Borders Principals Race when the nominated representatives from each Border town saddle up their horses on Sunday at Kelso Races.

The four-furlong race, staged for the first time in 2004, provides a focal point for one of the largest social gatherings of the Border Ridings’ season, takes place at 1.15pm.

The gates open at 12.05pm and the first of six official races, run under National Hunt rules, gets under way at 2.05pm.

The feature race of the day is the £30,000 NSPCC School Service Handicap Steeplechase, sponsored by Ray and Anita Green. Run over 2m and a furlong, the chase has increased in value by £7500 this year and has attracted a top-quality field.

Sudski Star, owned by Kelso director Geoff Adam and trained by Jedburgh’s Harriet Graham, bids to follow a recent eight-length win over course and distance. Nicky Richards’ Simply Ned is a standing dish in this race – the Greystoke raider won it in 2014 and 2015 before going down by a neck 12 months ago to Theflyingportrait, who is among the entries again.

The first race on the £61,000 programme is the Newcastle Arms Coldstream Handicap Hurdle, sponsored by Robin and Sylvia Lees. Mike Smith has his horses in decent order and the Ayrshire trainer is double-handed, with Alphabetical Order and An Fear Ciuin. Nick Alexander has high hopes for ex-flat racer Dance Of Fire.

The Blue Coo Bistrot Novices Hurdle Race is named after the contemporary eatery at the Buccleuch Arms, St Boswells. Iain Jardine, who will be off to Australia soon with Nakeeta in the Melbourne Cup, has entered Loud And Clear and Golden Jeffrey who was impressive over hurdles at Perth recently.

The third race, the Alexandra Carrington Novices’ Chase, is run over 2m 7½f and Point The Way, a 129 rated hurdler, looks set for a chasing debut as Danny Cook has been booked for the ride on a horse owned by Phil Martin and trained by Brian Ellison.

Mark Hay, who owns the Queens Head Hotel in Kelso, has sponsored the fourth race.

Rose Tree, trained at Otterburn by Susan Corbett, could be an interesting recruit to hurdles.

The final race, the Double Five Whitburn Handicap Hurdle Race at 4.50pm, has attracted 43 entries and promises to be an ultra-competitive event.

Lucinda Russell’s mare Catchthemoonlight takes the eye.