The biggest crowd of the season is expected at Kelso Racecourse this Sunday when the Borders track hosts its annual Ladies’ Day.
Gates open at noon for the event, which draws racegoers from across the region – many of whom will be hoping to be spotted by the judges of the best-dressed contests, where the prizes have a collective value running into thousands of pounds.
Finalists for the fashion awards will be presented with a rosette which entitles them to participate in the contest – with the best hat being selected after the first race.
The best dressed woman, best dressed man and best dressed couple will be judged following the second, third and fourth races.
And the competition on the track is expected to be every bit as hot as the catwalk enclosures, with every race exceeding £10,000 in prize value.
The most valuable event on the seven-race programme is the £18,000 Ayton Castle Handicap Steeplechase.
Peter Bowen could hold the key. He is triple-handed at the entry stage, with Alf ‘N’ Dor, Potters Story and Viens Chercher. Top-rated is the Nicky Richards-trained Cultram Abbey, twice a Kelso winner this term.
David Pipe, who enjoyed his first ever winner as a trainer at Kelso in May 2006 with Standin Obligaton, has entered recent Ludlow winner Teaser for the third race – a £16,000 Handicap Hurdle sponsored by the Coppola family. The youngest horse in the race, aged four, Teaser will face stiff competition from the Keith Dalgleish-trained course-winner Mirsaale and James Ewart’s Lycidas.
The £12,000 Corinthian Spirit Grassroots Hunterchase has new conditions this year, ensuring the runners have qualified by running at a northern region point-to-point or hunterchase. This is to provide an end-of-season focus for everyone engaged in the amateur side of the sport.
Cave Hunter, trained near Hawick by Wendy Hamilton, landed this valuable prize in 2015 and 2016, and heads a tremendous entry.
Also entered are Shimla Dawn and Damiens Dilemma, third and fourth last year, while Yorkshire raider Streets Of Milan, trained by former jump jockey Chris Pimlott, won last year’s Heart Of All England Hunters’ Chase at Hexham.
Mr Mercurial, a recent winner at Perth, has run with credit all season and will be ridden enthusiastically by owner-trainer Will Ramsey.
Gloucestershire trainer Tom George won the hunterchase 12 months ago. While unlikely to have a horse qualified under the new conditions, he’s entered Forgot To Ask in the Elliot Henderson & Son Novices Handicap Chase, who could go well following surgery to improve his breathing mid-season.
Selkirk trainer Stuart Coltherd has two entries, including Mrs Vonn, who won at her local track last month.
The final race on Ladies Day is, appropriately enough, a £12,000 National Hunt Flat Race restricted to mares, sponsored by Five Star Taxis.
There are entries from Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales and last year’s winning trainer, Nicky Richards, has a choice of three entries, comprising Headscarf Lil, Highland Gold and Kitty Hall.