Kelso racehorse trainer Sandy Thomson among winners at his home-town track with Curramore
Empire De Maulde is being lined up for next year’s Scottish Grand National after winning the £40,000 feature race at Kelso on Saturday.
Ridden by Brian Hughes and sent off at 13/8, the seven-year-old bay gelding became the sixth favourite in seven years to win the 3m 2f Edinburgh Gin Chase, beating Big River, trained by Lucinda Russell and with Derek Fox in the saddle, by three lengths to claim the 3.19pm limited-handicap race’s £20,812 first prize.
His trainer James Ewart, based north of Langholm, said: “It would be nice to bring the Scottish Grand National back to the Borders and he will have a break now before we prepare him for Ayr in April.
“He might not even run over fences before then as he could have a spin or two in hurdle company.
“He’s a very versatile and classy horse as he has good form over a variety of distances.”
Dingo Dollar, trained by Sandy Thomson near Kelso and ridden by his son-in-law Ryan Mania, finished fourth out of the six horses taking part.
Russell, of Kinross, and Fox were earlier on the mark with £50,000 purchase Corrigeen Rock in the opening Watch on Racing TV National Hunt Maiden Hurdle, picking up its £4,357 first prize.
Russell’s assistant Peter Scudamore said: “We were a little concerned about the trip as he’s bred to stay a lot further than two miles. He will make a lovely chaser in time so we are delighted he has won today.”
Goast Dancer, trained by Thomson and ridden by Mania, finished second last of the 11 horses to complete that 1.34pm race, with Lock Down Luke, ridden by Sean Quinlan for trainer Jackie Stephen, relocating to Lilliesleaf from Inverurie in Aberdeenshire, third; Shoeshine Boy, ridden by Hawick jockey Craig Nichol for town trainer Donald Whillans, coming in seventh; and Fortcanyon, with Stephen Mulqueen in the saddle for Yetholm trainer Sandy Forster, following in ninth.
Nichol was also in the saddle for Northumbrian trainer Rose Dobbin for another maiden hurdle at 2.09pm, finishing second on Okavango Delta, with Selkirk trainer Stuart Coltherd’s Grand Voyage, ridden by Sam Coltherd, third; Thomson’s Salvino, ridden by Mania, fifth; and Forster’s Duty Calls, with Lorcan Murtagh riding, seventh.
Nichol finished second for Dobbin in the 2.44pm Clifford, Martin and Sarah Firth Memorial Novices’ Handicap Chase too, on Vintage Glen, with Flaming Glory, ridden by Quinlan for trainner Katie Scott, of Lindean, near Selkirk, third, and the Coltherds’ To the Limit sixth.
Curramore, returning from wind surgery, was ridden to victory by Mania for Thomson in the two-mile Simpsons Malt Handicap Hurdle at 3.54pm, picking up its £3,322 first prize.
Thomson said: “Ryan made plenty of use of him and had the rail to help.
“He’s a horse that should continue to do well during the season and courses like Carlisle should also suit him.”
Toutatis, with Callum Bewley in the saddle for Hawick trainer Ewan Whillans, finished sixth, and Dr Shirocco, ridden by Murtagh for Forster, was seventh.
The Coltherds finished fourth with Wheelbahri in the 5.04pm Visit Racingtv.com Novices’ Handicap Chase, with Mania fifth on Forster’s Ashjan.
Coltherd also had a fifth-placed finisher, Dequall, ridden by Murtagh, in the last race of the day, the 5.35pm William Hill Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle.