Yetholm trainer tells of joy after gelding racks up hat-trick of wins at Kelso
Borders trainer Sandy Forster has told of her joy after pulling off one of the biggest triumphs of her equestrian career to date as course specialist Claud and Goldie finished first in the feature race at Kelso last Friday.
The 11-2 chestnut gelding saw off Up Helly Aa King, trained by Fife’s Nick Alexander, by two lengths in the course’s Edinburgh Gin Limited Handicap Chase, with Vintage Clouds, trained by West Yorkshire's Sue Smith and ridden by Borderer Ryan Mania in third place.
Claud and Goldie was ridden, as was the case for his two previous victories at the track, by Richie McLernon.
Forster is a granddaughter of late trainer Ken Oliver, of Hassendeanbank, near Denholm, and she said of her forebear: “It was his involvement and success with national hunt racing that inspired me to do what I’m doing today.”
The Town Yetholm trainer, based at Halterburn Head, added: “Claud and Goldie is a horse we’ve had him since he was a nine-year-old – he’s 12 now – and this is his third win at Kelso. He’s never won anywhere else.
“Richie said to give him a crack at the Scottish National in April, but we might also come back here for the Premier Chase next month even though he’d be wrong at the weights.
“It’s a good result as we’ve had a lot of snow and we weren’t able to do much with the horses for a few days.”
Empire Steel is also a possible for the Ayr marathon later in the spring after he landed the Timeform Gold at timeform.com Novices’ Chase at 4-1 by a wide margin for trainer Sandy Thomson and jockey Ryan Mania, ahead of 1-2 favourite Protektorat, part-owned by former football manager Alex Ferguson and ridden by Harry Skelton and trained by his brother Dan.
Thomson, based just seven miles away from the Kelso track at Lambden, said: “We’ve got a strong team of novices, and he’s probably just about the best.
“He’s not done a lot wrong in three races over fences and can only get better with experience.”
Another Borders horse won the Cheltenham Countdown at timeform.com Handicap Hurdle.
Corrieben Reiver, trained by Alistair Whillans and carrying the colours of John and Liz Elliot, stormed home by 24 lengths at 9-1, ahead of 6-4 favourite Ebony Jewel, also trained by Alexander at Kinneston, near Glenrothes, to give jockey Craig Nichol the ideal 27th birthday present.
Whillans, of Newmill, south of Hawick, said: “He’s been off due to a leg since winning his novice hurdle at Ayr in October 2019 and he’s been ready to run for a while but the weather has intervened.”
Grant Cockburn rode out his claim as Ryedale Racer, another of Alexander’s horses, sprung an 80-1 upset – at £88.60 on the Tote - in the 2m 6f BoscaSports Racing's Digital Display Handicap Hurdle.
Another horse of Forster’s, Morningside, also ridden by McLernon, finished second at 20-1.
Warwickshire’s Skelton brothers teamed up for a short-priced double with Rockstar Ronnie at 5-4 in the Belhaven Brewery Novices' Hurdle, the first race of the day, and Eclair D’Ainay at 2-1 in the Racing TV Novices' Limited Handicap Chase, the sixth.