Ayr raid yields wins for Borders racehorse trainers Jackie Stephen, Donald Whillans and Sandy Thomson

Borders racehorse trainers Donald Whillans, Jackie Stephen and Sandy Thomson no doubt do like to be beside the seaside as all three notched up wins at Ayr’s meeting on Monday.
Ryan Mania in prior action on trainer Sandy Thomson's Carcaci Castle at Kelso (Pic: Alan Raeburn)Ryan Mania in prior action on trainer Sandy Thomson's Carcaci Castle at Kelso (Pic: Alan Raeburn)
Ryan Mania in prior action on trainer Sandy Thomson's Carcaci Castle at Kelso (Pic: Alan Raeburn)

Hawick’s Whillans was first past the post with Nights in Venice, ridden by Henry Brooke, in the day’s opening 2.05pm New Bet-in-Race with Coral Handicap Chase.

The eight-year-old chestnut gelding, sent off at 10/3, was three-quarters of a length ahead of 13/8 favourite Travail D’Orfevre, trained by Fife’s Nick Alexander and with Hawick jockey Bruce Lynn riding, at the end of that two-mile-four-furlong race to take its £4,753 top prize.

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That was Nights in Venice’s first win to date, though he’s finished runner-up three times previously – at Newcastle and Carlisle last April and March respectively and at Kelso in November 2021.

Whillans also recorded a second place in South Ayrshire this week, with Both Barrels, ridden by Hawick jockey Craig Nichol, losing out to Lilliesleaf trainer Jackie Stephen’s Eire Street, with Danny McMenamin riding, by almost five lengths in the 3.35pm Coral Handicap Hurdle.

That victory over two miles and four furlongs earned prize money of £4,753 for the 5/4 favourite.

That was the seven-year-old bay gelding’s second win in the space of a week – and ever – following a first-place finish at Carlisle, also with McMenamin in the saddle.

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Kelso trainer Thomson was also among the day’s winners with 5/6 favourite I Am Max in the 4.10pm Coral We’re Here for It Novices’ Hurdle, earning its £4,357 top prize.

Thomson’s son-in-law Ryan Mania was jockey for that first-place finish over two miles, with Kinross trainer Lucinda Russell’s Dollar Collar, ridden by Stephen Mulqueen, three-quarters of a length behind.

Like Eire Street, that was the six-year-old chestnut gelding’s second victory to date and this month, having notched up his first, with Lewis Dobb riding, at Carlisle at the start of February.

Thomson and Mania also took a third place with 1½ chance Carcaci Castle in the 3.05pm Coral Best Odds Guaranteed Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase, won by 13/8 favourite Traprain Law for Russell and rider Patrick Wadge.

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Yetholm’s Sandy Forster missed out on victory with Gypsey’s Secret, ridden by Mulqueen, by three-quarters of a length in the 4.45pm Coral Mares’ Handicap Hurdle, losing out to Not Staying Long, trained by Mike Smith in East Ayrshire and with Brian Hughes as jockey.

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