Top Borders trainers hope odds will be in their favour at Aintree
Two leading local trainers will be leading the Borders charge at the world's greatest steeplechase, the Grand National, on Saturday.
Sandy Thomson, of Greenlaw, near Kelso, will be there with 10-year-old Seeyouatmidnight, while Stuart Coltherd, of Selkirk, is taking Captain Redbeard to Aintree.
Last year, of course, the Borders revelled in a marvellous victory as One For Arthur, owned by local ladies Deborah Thomson and Belinda McClung, surged home to victory.
There’s a belief that either of the Borders horses might just deliver a second straight victory for Scotland this weekend.
But Sandy and Stuart do not regard that as extra pressure – they are each delighted to be involved, and both are taking part for the first time.
Both have also been impressed with their horses’ form in recent outings.
Stuart said: “It’s a great thrill just to have a horse good enough to be competing in the biggest race in the world.
“It’s a privilege on its own. It’s what every trainer really, tries to do.
Sandy added: “It’s tremdounds to be part of such an event – that’s why you get into horses. You hope one day it might happen, although you hardly imagine it ever will happen.
“But, for a couple of years now, we’ve hoped that, at some time in his (Midnight’s) career, he would run in a National, and we are just about there.”
Seeyouatmidnight, recovered from injury and sold this week to new owners, will be ridden by Brian Hughes, while nine-year-old Captain Redbeard will have Stuart’s son Sam (19) in the saddle.
Lucinda Russell, who trained the now injury-sidelined One For Arthur, has reportedly admitted to a flutter on Captain Redbeard and agreed another ‘tartan triumph’ would be wonderful.
Of the hype surrounding possible back-to-back Scottish wins, Stuart said: “Without doubt, it would be great for Scottish racing, and Scotland as a whole, just to have another winner. Lucinda has been a great supporter, right from day one.”
Sandy added: “We are on a very much smaller scale but Lucinda showed you can do it and take on the big boys who are paying six-figure sums for horses.”
Both men added that confidence wasn’t an easy feeling.
“You’re never confident because its a bit of a lottery, said Sandy. “There are 40 horses, 30 fences and four miles, and a lot can happen. But I am happy that the horse is going and in good form and happy with how his preparation has gone.
Stuart said: “It’s a big day for Sam – he is riding a horse he knows very well. He has jumped over the big fences before. It’s hard to be confident, but I would like to think the horse is in good form. With a good, clear round and a bit of luck, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be there competing at the finish.”
There is other Borders interest too, with The Last Samuri, 2016’s runner-up, and Beeves, also set to take part.
Both are owned by Paul and Clare Rooney, of Newton St Boswells.