Championship riders go the distance in Cheviot Hills

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ONCE the preserve of the Border Reivers, the rolling Cheviot Hills rang to the noise of hooves again earlier this month.

But this time with peaceful intent. The annual championships of the Scottish Endurance Riding Club, based at Kelso Racecourse and sponsored by Simple System horse feeds, took riders south-east of the town into the Cheviots for an exhilarating 60km circuit in fine autumn weather.

More than 200 entries were taken for the weekend, which began gently on Friday afternoon with a pleasure ride heading north-west through stubble fields. The real action started on Saturday morning, as riders set off on the flagship class – the two-day 160km ride – and 80km race route.

Fortified that evening by a dinner provided by the racecourse catering team, riders set off again the following morning, those doing the two-day classes fully aware that this was their chance to improve upon their overnight places.

A thrilling racing finish between three contenders for first place in the 80km class resulted in victory for Iain Paterson and Tannasg Primo Dancer, beating last year’s winner Diane Michie and Skylarks Discovery by a whisker.

The finish of the two-day 160km class saw Liz Booth and Zalah cross the line some 30 minutes ahead of Marina MacArthur and Ringing Solitaire.

Lower down the distance scale, the 2013 novice championship was won by Anne Short and Cumbria Khafifa who, with a speed of 12.98kph, came as close as they dared to the 13kph maximum speed for their 50km class to win the trophy.