A 15-length scorer last year for Dumfriesshire trainer Iain Jardine and jockey Conor O’Farrell, he is one of 31 entries for the extended four-mile marathon.Jardine said: “Last season, as well as the Borders National, he was runner-up in the Edinburgh National at Musselburgh, so it would be great to win again at Kelso.
"He’s already gone close over fences this autumn when only beaten by a nose at Carlisle.”
Dino Boy was left clear at the last when Duc De Grissay sprawled on landing and unseated Ryan Mania. Sandy Thomson’s Greenlaw raider is also among the entries along with Nakadam, who was third home for Cumbria-based Barry Murtagh 12 months ago.
The top-rated entry, on a BHA mark of 141, is the Venetia Williams-trained Achille, a game sixth in the Midlands National at Uttoxeter when last seen out in March.
Big River, who sports the paw-printed colours of owners ‘The Two Black Labs’, has won six and been placed twice in nine appearances at Kelso. The only hiccup was in this race in 2019, when the Lucinda Russell-trained gelding was brought down while seemingly still travelling well.
Running off 11 stone 9lb, he’ll be guaranteed a run, as would Do Not Disturb, who completed a hat-trick of Kelso wins in October and runs for the same connections that won the race in 2019 with Bigirononhiship.
The Paris Pike Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase usually signposts the top-staying novice chasers in the north. Doyen Breed showed a nice attitude when scoring on his debut over fences at Hexham recently for Sandy Thomson and Ryan Mania.
Similar comments apply to southern raider Castle Robin, trained by Charlie Longsdon and partnered by Paul O’Brien, following his chasing bow success at Exeter.
The first of seven races gets under way just after midday with the William Hill Bookmakers ‘National Hunt’ Auction Maiden Hurdle.
Winning point to pointer Chase Outlaw is a fascinating recruit to timber for the bang-in-form combination of Brian Hughes and Donald McCain.
Racegoers, who will be obliged to share their contact details with the racecourse for track and trace purposes, are advised to book tickets as early as possible and to wear plenty of warm clothing, so they are able to enjoy the races in the fresh air if possible.
While indoor spaces will be open to the public as normal, visitors are reminded it is mandatory to wear face coverings indoors in Scotland unless eating or drinking.