​English raider Stuart Edmonds hoping for first win at Kelso

​Buckinghamshire racehorse trainer Stuart Edmonds is hoping to notch up his first win at Kelso this Friday with Arizona Cardinal in the £22,500 Racing’s Best Ratings with Timeform Handicap Chase.
Ryan Mania and Empire Steel in prior action at Kelso (Photo: Alan Raeburn)Ryan Mania and Empire Steel in prior action at Kelso (Photo: Alan Raeburn)
Ryan Mania and Empire Steel in prior action at Kelso (Photo: Alan Raeburn)

Edmonds, based near Newport Pagnell, has only had one runner at the Borders racetrack previously.

Arizona Cardinal, likely to be ridden by Ciaran Gethings in the afternoon’s feature contest, has been raised 5lb after winning at Leicester last month.

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The eight-year-old bay gelding’s rivals in that 3.20pm race over nearly two miles and six furlongs could include Fife trainer Nick Alexander’s Ned Tanner and Kelso handler Sandy Thomson’s Empire Steel as they’re among 11 runners entered.

Empire Steel, owned by Cockburnspath farmer Alan Wight, is one of just two Scottish entries for this year’s Grand National at Aintree in April, with Ryan Mania set to be in the saddle both then and this week in the hope of adding to his five wins to date on the nine-year-old grey gelding – at Kelso last March and in February 2022 and February 2021, Ayr in October 2020 and Carlisle in December 2019.

Prize money of £15,000 is up for grabs in the race prior, the 2.50pm Church House Handicap Hurdle over two miles, and Jungle Jack could be a contender for Cheshire’s Donald McCain as he prepares to return after wind surgery for his first start since pulling up at Wetherby in November.

Carnfunnock, trained in Ireland by Stuart Crawford, with Daryl Jacob booked to ride, is also among the 15 entries pencilled in for that one, as is Hawick trainer Ewan Whillans’ Cracking Rhapsody.

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Crawford and Jacob are set to team up with Ballycoose in the 3.55pm Remembering Michael Wares Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase.

The seven other provisional entries for that two-mile-seven-furlong race, for a first prize of £6,601, include Selkirk trainer Stuart Coltherd’s Grand Voyage.

Seven races are being run altogether, with the first one off at 1.50pm.

That opener, the Full Circle Series at Punchestown Festival Handicap Hurdle, has attracted a provisional field of 23, including Thomson and Mania’s Pavlik.

Entry is £17 in advance and £21 on the day. For details, go to https://kelso-races.co.uk/