Kelso racecourse opens its new season with its first-ever twilight meeting next Wednesday.
The exciting fixture comes under orders at 4.05pm, with gates open at 2pm, and the final race at 7.05pm.
Two Border champions top the race sponsorship bill in Hawick-born jockey-turned trainer Keith Dalgleish, and Richard Gilbert of Straightline Construction.
Keith, who has a successful base at Carluke, last year broke the record for Scottish Flat-trained winners, and Straightline Construction has been instrumental in him achieving that feat, and sponsor a race in acknowledgement.
Scotland’s leading jumps trainer Lucinda Russell is looking at saddling a few runners on the card, including Kumbeshwar in the feature chase and newcomer Ballybill in the concluding bumper .
Lucinda set a new Scottish jumps record of 66 winners last season to eclipse Len Lungo’s long-standing previous best from 2002-03 by three.
“It is fantastic news that Kelso are getting the show on the road a wee bit earlier than normal. I’m sure they will be doing a great job with the watering and we always love to bring horses there,” said Lucinda.
“Kumbeshwar, previously with Alan King, will be having his first run for us,” she continued. “He’s a pretty good horse and has been placed in two Cheltenham Festivals, and has form behind our own Tap Night.”
Champion apprentice Jason Hart from Hawick is sponsored by Lamont Racing and Craig McClymont has generously stepped in to sponsor a race to acknowledge Jason’s achievement.
World Horse Welfare hosts a fundraising party to raise awareness of its invaluable work. Carole Mitchell and Snippet Innes work tirelessly for this very worthwhile cause and they have signed up an anonymous sponsor to provide prize money for their race. There will be a charity fun-run after racing.
Straightline Construction also support the maiden hurdle and proprietor Richard Gilbert hopes to have runners on the day.
Head groundsman Brian Meikle reports the track is in great condition for the opening meeting.
“We have the best covering of grass I can remember and the irrigator is in action and we are confident of providing ideal summer jumping ground next Wednesday,” he said.
A group of Borders farmers sponsor a race to highlight the referendum and the race is to be referred to as the “Last United Race, Yes/No Open Bumper.”
Lucinda Russell plans to introduce Ballybill in the bumper.
Racing UK, who promote and market Kelso’s media rights to the Sky platform, sponsor the opening race on the card under the title “Racing UK anywhere – Available Now Handicap Hurdle” and also the 2m Handicap Hurdle as “RacingUK Android App”.
Nicky Richards is entering One For Hocky in this two-mile handicap hurdle.
“He’s had quite a good summer and won nicely at Perth last month. This will be his first visit to Kelso since his novice days and we’re looking forward to it,” explained the Greystoke handler.
“ It’s great that they’re starting a bit earlier at Kelso this season as we need those extra autumn jumps days up here.”