Neptune Equester defended his crown with a back to back victory in Sunday’s feature Persimmon Homes Scottish Borders National at Kelso.
His popular success in the £30,000 contest marked a memorable afternoon for Greenlaw trainer Sandy Thomson, who had earlier saddled Seeyouatmidnight to win the £16,000 Roxburghe Hotel and Golf Course Paris Pike novice chase.
Just three of the eight starters completed the testing four-mile challenge, with Neptune Equester finishing 16 lengths clear of Presented, with Tikkandemickey, from Raymond Shiels’ Jedburgh stable,a game third.
“We always knew he would stay, but he is absolutely relentless, and has a great heart,” said winning jockey Derek Fox, after riding the 12-year-old to victory.
Class hurdler Seeyouatmidnight had finished behind Silsol on his chasing debut, but reversed that form with an impressive performance, cruising home 13 lengths clear of Paul Nicholls southern raider.
“He was entitled to beat Silsol in receipt of 10lbs but I am thrilled to bits with that,” said Sandy, whose wife Quona owns the winner.
“There is still plenty to work on and he is not ground dependent, although he wouldn´t want it too quick,” he added.
“Where we run next is tricky as there are not many suitable races in the north. It might be that he will go to Cheltenham in the New Year and then Wetherby in February,” he concluded.
Another partnership to complete a victorious double was Fife trainer Nick Alexander and his daughter Lucy – Scotland’s only professional lady jockey – who began and ended the afternoon with a winner.
The favourite, Nuts Well, looked to have the opening Black Swan Kelso novices’ hurdle race in his sights, prevailing at the last in the hands of Brian Hughes, but Road of Gold stayed on gamely to clinch success by three-quarters of a length.
“He came on from his first race and reversed the form with Cornborough but it´s possible that horse didn´t handle the ground as well as ours,” said the winning trainer.
Nick and Lucy were back in the winner’s enclosure when Marlee Massie made light of the testing conditions to land the concluding Kristoffersen Carpets novices’ handicap hurdle race, where just four of the 13 starters completed.
Kelso owner Deborah Thomson celebrated a second course success with Alizee De Janeiro, when the five-year-old posted her second win from three starts in a competitive D G Pryde Ltd handicap hurdle race.
“She hated the ground, so that’s not a bad performance for a horse who doesn’t like the going,” explained winning trainer Lucinda Russell.
“She´s improved out of all recognition and I´m hoping she might be able to go for Listed races next year before going chasing the year after that,” she added.
Champion trainer Paul Nicholls saw Vivaldi Collonges dominate the Scotty Brand Champion Chase.
“It’s paradise here, compared to all the floods we came through,” said winning jockey Nick Scholfield.
Eight went to post in the A M Gilhome Joinery & Building mares’ novices’ hurdle race, won by the Malcolm Jefferson-trained La Dama De Hierro.
Racing returns to Kelso for the final meeting of 2015 on Tuesday, December 29.
12.00 – ROAD TO GOLD (L Alexander) 6-1; 2, Nuts Well 5-4 fav; 3, Cornborough 6-4. Eight ran.N Alexander, Fife.
12.30 – SEEYOUATMIDNIGHT (B Hughes) 5-6 fav; 2, Silsol 11-4; 3, One For Arthur 8-1. Six ran. A Thomson, Greenlaw.
1.05 – ALIZEE DE JANEIRO (P Buchanan) 7-2; 2, Smadynium 28-1; 3, Hunters Belt 3-1 fav. Nine ran. L Russell, Milnathort.
1.40 – NEPTUNE EQUESTER (D Fox)11-4 jt fav; 2, Presented 15-2 3, Tikkandemickey 11-2. Eight ran. A Thomson.
2.15 – VIVALDI COLLONGES (N Scholfield) 15-8 fav; 2, Firth of the Clyde 100-30; 3, Silver Tassie 17-2. Six ran. P Nicholls, Ditcheat.
2.45 – La Dama De Hierro (B Hughes) 6-1; 2, Miss Tiggy 12-1; 3, Presenting Rose 10-1. Eight ran. M Jefferson, Malton.
3.15 – MARLEE MASSIE (L Alexander) 10-1; 2, Oscar O’Scar 4-1 fav; 3, Kilquiggan 11-2. 13 ran. N Alexander.