Saturday racing is back at Kelso this weekend h a meeting renowned as the best Aintree Grand National Trial in the UK.
It has yielded three winners in recent years – and the gates open on March 4 at 12.15pm, with the first race due off at 2.15pm.
The Tote sponsors the feature races of the day, the Premier Hurdle and the Premier Chase, both of which have attracted very competitive fields.
The 2m 7½ f totepoolliveinfo.com Premier Chase, with £33,000 total prize money, sees local trainers Sandy Forster, Sandy Thomson and Nicky Richard put their hats in the ring against the southern raiders of Venetia Williams’ Tenor Nivernais and Paul Nicholls’ two entries, Le Mercurey and Vivaldi Collonges.
The 2m2f totescoop6 Premier Hurdle, with a prize fund of £38,000, is Kelso’s richest Novice Hurdle and is more of a trial for the Glenlivet Hurdle at Aintree than for the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Fred Done, Betfred and the Tote jointly sponsor more races and put more money back in to racing than any other sponsor in the UK. Paul Nicholls heads the 14 entries, with Capitaine and Persian Deilight, both top weight, and it’s sure to be an exciting contest.
The Alexander Family, from Kinneston in Fife, have long been associated with the Racecourse at Kelso, with Nick’s father Cyril being one of the earliest sponsors and benefactors of the track.
With Nick now training and Lucy and Kit riding so well, the whole family is deeply involved in the grass roots of National Hunt Racing in Scotland. This 2m 1f Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase sees three entries in Clan Legend, Road to Gold and Buffalo Ballet, from the Kinneston yard, in a bid to return the prize money to Fife.
The first race on the card is sponsored by Terry Frame, the well-known local joiner from Kelso, who always has a good party for this race meeting. He has very generously sponsored the 2m Novices’ Hurdle and is well rewarded with an entry on 19.
Reivers Lad, winner for Kelso owner John Stenhouse at the last meeting, is heading back to the Borders track and is hopeful of claiming the top prize for the second time.
Another very long-standing sponsor at Kelso is Garry Mansell, of Premier Traffic Management, who always brings up a large party from his base in County Durham, and the 2m 5f Handicap Chase is set to be a very competitive race with an impressive 21 entries.
The Thomson family from Trabrown Hill, Lauder, return to sponsor the concluding race on the card, the 2m6½f Carnacrack Handicap Hurdle, off at 5.10pm. Simon Waugh is looking to run Total Assets, who romped to victory at Kelso back in December, for the Northumberland Racing Club.
The next meeting at Kelso will be Party In The Paddock on Saturday, March 25. Gates will open at 12.05pm and the first race off is due off at 2.05pm. Tickets can be booked online at www.kelso-races.co.uk while there’s also the chance of an advanced booking discount.