Kelso’s sunshine at the crack of Don

Spectator (far right), ridden by Tom O'Brien, wins the Mark Murray Celebration Maiden Hurdle Race on Sunday at Kelso (picture by Stuart Cobley)
Spectator (far right), ridden by Tom O'Brien, wins the Mark Murray Celebration Maiden Hurdle Race on Sunday at Kelso (picture by Stuart Cobley)

Alnwick trainer Rose Dobbin saddled 6-1 chance Mister Don to a popular victory before a bumper crowd at sun-bathed Kelso races on Sunday.

The six-year-old headed the Happy Birthday Sylvia novices’ handicap chase – a celebration for restaurateur Sylvia Scott from Galashiels.

The former pointer was having just his second run over fences and seemed to relish a firmer surface.

“We were scratching our heads with him, as his point-to-point form suggested he wanted soft ground. But he was disappointing on soft ground on his chasing debut,” explained Rose.

“Brian (Harding) thought he would do better on good ground, so we´ll keep him going on decent ground.”

Hawick-born Iain Jardine landed the Cath Midgley Racing to School intermediate hurdle with Traditional Dancer, who cruised home 18 lengths clear of sole rival Oak Vintage.

“He had a simple task in the end after the favourite came out but that´s a good confidence booster for him,” said Iain. “He is a nice prospect and will jump a fence one day.”

The four-year-old carries the colours of Scottish owner Ian Dalgleish.

The feature NSPCC School Service handicap chase saw Theflyingportrait make all, to hold Simply Ned – bidding to take the spoils for the third year on the trot – by a neck.

“We were maybe helped today as ours was match fit, whereas the favourite was having his first run,” said Alan O’Keefe, assistant to trainer Jennie Candlish.

Welsh trainer Tim Vaughan accounted for the first two races on the card – Makethedifference posted a 5-1 victory in the opening Newcastle Arms Coldstream handicap hurdle race, and favourite Spectator followed suit in the Mark Murray Celebration maiden hurdle race.

The low sun saw the final two flights omitted in the concluding Radio Borders novices’ handicap hurdle race, won by Italian Riviera in a thrilling finish, for Cumbria trainer Kenneth Slack.

The seven-year-old got the better of Mitcd from George Bewley’s Hawick stable by a neck.

An enthusiastic crowd cheered home their local common riding heads in a 14-strong Border Principals race.

Coldstream’s Jamie Nicholson rode Charlie Bucket to victory, seeing off the challenge of Rebecca Nelson from Dumfries, and Selkirk Standard Bearer Rory Monks, who started as favourite.

“I really enjoyed that,” enthused Jamie, who has his own joinery business. “It’s the first time I had ever ridden the horse and he was great.”

Jockeys of the future were seen in action in two pony races which preceded the main racing.

Just two went to post in the 138cm category, won by I’m Lovin It, ridden by 14-year-old Nick Barratt Atkin, who was also the season’s leading rider in the 148cm regional awards.

Runner-up, 13-year-old Camilla Broster, won the award for ‘most improved rider’.

The season’s top rider in the 138cm section was Charlie Todd, who heads to Newmarket before joining Alan Swinbank’s stable.

Fifteen-year-old Oakley Brown headed the 148cm race riding White Water, with the ‘most improved rider’ going to Archie Frank.

Racing returns to Kelso on Saturday, October 22.

Results: 2.15pm – MAKETHEDIFFERENCE (T. O’Brien) 5-1, 2 Arthurs Secret 4-1, 3 Nine Altars 7-1. Seven ran. T. Vaughan, Vale of Glamorgan.

2.50 – SPECTATOR (T. O’Brien) 6-4 fav, 2 Chorus of Lies 8-1, 3 Bogardus 8-1. Eight ran. T. Vaughan.

3.25 – MISTER DON (B. Harding) 6-1, 2 Solstice Dawn 20-1, 3 Sirius Star 15-2. Six ran. R. Dobbin, Alnwick.

4pm – TRADITIONAL DANCER (S. Shortall) 1-4 fav, 2 Oak Vintage 11-4. Two ran. I. Jardine, Dumfries.

4.30 – THEFLYINGPORTRAIT (S. Quinlan) 13-8, 2 Simply Ned 6-5 fav, 3 Witness in Court 5-1. Four ran. J. Candlish, Staffs.

5.05 – ITALIAN RIVIERA (H. Brooke) 2-1 fav; 2 Mitcd 11-1, 3 Catchthemoonlight 9-2. Seven ran. K. Slack, Cumbria.