Kelso raiders repelled by Harry The Viking

Runners line up at Kelso for the Persimmon Homes Scottish Borders National 2018, won by Rachael McDonald on Harry The Viking (picture by Alan Raeburn).
Runners line up at Kelso for the Persimmon Homes Scottish Borders National 2018, won by Rachael McDonald on Harry The Viking (picture by Alan Raeburn).

Harry The Viking and Selkirk rider Rachael McDonald landed a second dramatic £50,000 Persimmon Homes Scottish Borders National at Kelso on Sunday.

The pair tasted success in the race in 2016, with last year’s renewal falling victim to the weather.

Trainer Sandy Thomson and owner Jim Beaumont were winning the contest for the fourth time running having also picked it up in 2014 and 2015 with Neptune Equester.

Sent off at 16/1, Harry The Viking led at the fourth last before gamely seeing off the persistent challenge of well-backed 100/30 favourite and top-weight Calett Mad.

A proud Greenlaw-based Sandy Thomson said ‘Harry’ was going to be 14 in three weeks’ time – but he’s not finished yet.

“He is an amazing horse and he just keeps on surprising us,” he added. “Full credit to Rachael as well, as they get on so well together.”

Rachael said: “He’s a real star and I couldn’t be more pleased for him. As always, he’s given me everything and he really sticks his neck out and tries so hard for you.

“He just jumps from fence to fence and it’s brilliant to win this again.

“He got a hero’s welcome from the crowd when we came back to the winners’ enclosure, and he thoroughly deserved it.”

Devon trainer Jane Williams was successful with her first runner at Kelso, as son Chester, also on his maiden trip to the Borders venue, won the opening New Jumps Season On Racing UK “National Hunt” Auction Maiden Hurdle, with evens favourite Romeo Brown.

Chester said: “This horse was really just coming up to accompany Aubusson, who was running in the Borders National.

“It was his debut over hurdles and he could be quite a decent prospect, as his bumper form is quite smart.

“It’s a lovely track and been really well looked after – we’ve enjoyed our trip and it’s just a shame it’s so far away!”

Cultram Abbey sparked a double on the card for trainer Nicky Richards and jockey Ryan Day.

The 11-year-old chaser, who had been previously been successful in a Hunterchase at the track, took the £30,000 Scotty Brand Veterans Steeplechase. The same trainer and jockey paired up to win the EBF Mares Novices Hurdle with Peters Cousin.

The next fixture at Kelso takes place on Saturday, December 29, when the first race is due off at 11.45am. The gates will open at 10am.