Hawick jockey Bruce Lynn first past post on Elvis Mail in £50,000 Kelso feature race
The nine-year-old grey gelding beat Highland Hunter, trained by Fergal O’Brien in Gloucestershire and with Paddy Brennan riding, by two lengths to claim the 1.29pm Edinburgh Gin Chase’s £26,015 top prize.
Kelso trainer Sandy Thomson’s 9/4 favourite Empire Steel, in front for much of the three-mile-two-furlong race with Ryan Mania in the saddle, had to settle for third place, just over two lengths behind Highland Hunter.
“We’ll work backwards from the Scottish National and there are plenty of races here for him as he likes the course,” said Alexander, based at Kinneston stables, near Glenrothes.
“He travelled very well and, apart from one down the far side, he jumped nicely as well. He started out over two miles but he stays well now.”
Corach Rambler, Perth and Kinross trainer Lucinda Russell’s 2023 Aintree Grand National winner, finished fifth and last with Derek Fox riding.
“He’s never run that well first time out for us and I’ve always felt heavy ground isn’t ideal for him,” said Russell’s partner, Peter Scudamore.
Russell won four of the day’s other seven races, however, starting with Bollingerandkrug, ridden by Fox, in the 2.39pm Beauchamp Estates Handicap Chase at 6/4.
That was the eight-year-old bay gelding’s third win of the year at Kelso and fifth there altogether.
“He clearly loves it here as he’s never won anywhere else,” said Scudamore.
3/1 favourite Caithness made it a double for Russell’s Milnathort yard, with Patrick Wadge riding, in the day’s next race, Bill and Irene’s Celebration Handicap Hurdle at 3.14pm.
Fox notched up a hat-trick for Russell on 10/3 second favourite Old Gregorian in the race after, the 3.54pm division-two Just Add Tonic Events National Hunt Maiden Hurdle, and Conner McCann concluded a near 113-1 four-timer for her yard on Jem in Em in the last race of the day, the 5.04pm RacingTV.com/freetrial Conditional Jockeys’ Training Series Handicap Hurdle.
Two of those victories were at the expense of Spittal-on-Rule trainer Paul Robson as he had to settle for runner-up spots in the 3.54pm and 5.04pm races, with Craig Nichol on Doyen du Bar and Dylan Johnston riding Haveyougotmymoney respectively.
Thomson and Mania were fourth in the former with Rob Roy Macgregor and Selkirk trainer Stuart Coltherd and jockey Oscar Palmer fourth in the latter with Dequall.
Saturday’s opener, the 12.54pm division-one Just Add Tonic Events National Hunt Maiden Hurdle, was won by Coniston George, trained in Cumbria by Nicky Richards and with Danny McMenamin as jockey.
Coltherd’s Flash du Pistolet, with his son Sam riding, was second in that one, with Valleyview Tommy third for Thomson and Mania.
Busty Boy, trained near Ecclefechan by Daragh Bourke and ridden by Brian Hughes, and County Durham trainer Chris Grant’s Fearless Action, with Tom Midgley riding, won the day’s other races, the 2.04pm Clifford, Martin and Sarah Firth Memorial Novices’ Handicap Chase, with Domandlouis second for Russell and Fox, and 4.29pm Watch RacingTV Free for 31 Days Novices’ Handicap Chase, with Fox and Russell’s Hector Master second and Thomson and Mania’s Baron Briggs third.