Prize purse ensures a happy new year

Kelso race bosses want to enhance the race-going experience for everyone, as well as offering a bigger prize pot (picture by Alan Raeburn).
Kelso race bosses want to enhance the race-going experience for everyone, as well as offering a bigger prize pot (picture by Alan Raeburn).

Despite losing Friday’s festive fixture to frost and snow, the management team at Kelso Racecourse have over a million reasons to be cheerful as they usher in 2018.

The total annual prize fund at Kelso Racecourse is scheduled to exceed £1.2 million in 2018, an increase of more than 26 per cent compared to the prize fund designated for 2017.

While the Borders track is scheduled to stage 15 race meetings in 2018 – one more than last year – the average value of the 98 individual races is set to increase by more than 20 per cent, from just over £10,000 to £12,200.

The most valuable race-programme ever to be staged at Kelso, with total prize money of £166,000, has been planned for Saturday, April 7, when the ITV Racing team will be in Scotland to cover the action.

While the feature race that day is expected to be worth £50,000, more than 15 per cent of the races staged in 2018 will have a prize fund of £20,000 or more.

Jonathan Garratt, who took up the role of managing director at Kelso Races Ltd in September, said: “The industry is set for enhanced funding next year, which we hope will encourage more owners into the sport and help to maintain the enthusiasm of existing owners.

“A significant part of this funding is predicated on the mutual desire of racecourses and the BHA (British Horseracing Authority) to drive increased field sizes.

“Kelso has built a positive reputation through putting every spare pound into prize funds in the past,” added Mr Garratt.

“I remain committed to delivering high levels of prize money in the future, although we are also working on plans to improve the infrastructure with the intention of enhancing the race-day experience for all of our customers, including racegoers, racehorse owners and trainers.

“We anticipate making a significant investment in the facilities over a period of several years and we hope to make a start at the end of the current racing season in May.

“It is incredibly frustrating to lose two good-quality race-days in succession, especially as we’d anticipated large festive crowds. On the plus side, the track will be in fantastic condition when we get racing under way again in January.”

As well as the cancellation of last weekend’s Festive Fling, Kelso’s Persimmon Homes Scottish Borders National Handicap Steeplechase on December 10 – featuring Christmas jumpers on both senses of the word – was also called off because of the weather.

The next fixture at Kelso Racecourse is scheduled for Sunday, January 14.

Meanwhile a new fixture, not scheduled in 2017, is programmed for Thursday, January 25.

The intention is it should support racing in the north of Britain, acting as a contingency against the abandonment of winter fixtures such as those which have occurred recently.