Borders racehorse trainers set to be out in force at Kelso this weekend

Buster Valentine, making his debut for North Yorkshire trainer Mark Walford, is being lined up to end a lengthy absence from the track by contesting the feature event at Kelso on Saturday, the £20,000 Paxtons’ Borders Direct for Genuine Kverneland Wishing Well Handicap Chase.

Wednesday, 3rd November 2021, 7:53 am
Castle Robin, right, seen here at Cheltenham a year ago, is among the horses pencilled in to race at Kelso this Saturday (Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)

Unraced since scoring at Market Rasen in Lincolnshire almost two years ago, the eight-year-old bay gelding is one of 13 entries for the 2m 5f steeplechase, named after a well discovered at the course whilst its new parade ring was being built.

Coins tossed by hopeful racegoers into the well will be donated to the Injured Jockeys Fund.

The 2.10pm race, sponsored by farm machinery supplier Paxtons, has also attracted Exit to Where and Uptown Harry, winners at Ayr and Perth for Dumfries and Galloway’s Iain Jardine and Northumberland’s Jane Walton respectively when last seen in May.

Last year’s first prize went to Charlie Longsdon with Almazhar Grade, and this time round the Oxfordshire handler has entered Castle Robin.

On the corresponding card 12 months ago, Sandy Thomson saddled a treble and the Kelso trainer is hoping to start off with a winner in the shape of Geronimo in the opening Racing TV Novices’ Hurdle at 12.25pm. Carrying the colours of Ken McGarrity and with Ryan Mania riding, the 10-year-old chestnut gelding was pipped into second place by a head and a neck on his two previous visits to Kelso.

Kinross trainer Lucinda Russell is a regular at the Borders track and she is double-handed in the 1pm Ian Anderson Memorial Handicap Chase with Destiny is All and Lucky Flight. Scotland’s leading jumps trainer has won the race twice in recent years with Imjoeking in 2016 and Alizee De Janeiro in 2018.

Thomson has also entered Seemorelights for that chase, as well as pencilling in Sirwilliamwallace for the 2.10pm race, and fellow Borders trainers Sandy Forster and Stuart Coltherd are lining up Ashjan and Buddari respectively to run at 1pm too.

A further three horses have been provisionally pencilled in for the 1.35pm Bruce Farms Handicap Hurdle by Thomson – Storm Nelson, Doyen Breed and Milvale.

Hawick’s Ewan Whillans and Selkirk’s Coltherd are among the trainers to put in entries for the 2.45pm Royal Caledonian Hunt Novices' Handicap Chase, Kalaharry and Deep Charm respectively, along with Yetholm’s Forster with Morningside.

Jackie Stephen, formerly Britain’s most northerly trainer when based up in Aberdeenshire, has now settled into new stables at Lilliesleaf and she has pencilled in an entry for Any Job Will Do in the 3.15pm Graeme Todd and Friends Handicap Hurdle. Northumberland’s Rose Dobbin is double-handed at the entry stage with previous course-winners Fete Champetre and Trooper Turnbull, as are Whillans with Toutatis and Pitempton Power and Thomson with Stoney Rover and Goodtimes Badtimes.

Rose of Siena was a late withdrawal at Ayr due to unsuitable ground recently but she is a filly held in high regard by Cumbrian trainer Nicky Richards, and Brian Hughes is already booked to ride her at Kelso in the closing event, the 3.50pm Belhaven Brewery Open National Hunt Flat Race.

Coltherd might also be represented in that one by Augharue, Stephen by the Real Rascal and Hawick’s Donald Whillans by Nights in Venice.

The first of seven races will get under way at 12.25pm and gates open at 10.30am.