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Friday 26th May

There was a little bit of the ‘whoosh’ factor as Nezwaah scorched clear of her rivals at Ayr on Wednesday.

Indeed she won the second running of the Rothesay Stakes in such style that it’s doubtful we will see Roger Varian’s filly in Listed company again.

I spoke to her jockey Andrea Atzeni afterwards and he told me she held several Group 1 entries, including at Royal Ascot, later in the summer and added that she could even be the type to race against the best in top races aboard.

Andrea, who flew up by private plane from Newmarket, was making his first visit to Ayr (for just one ride) and he was really impressed with the place. And, professional to the last detail, he even took the trouble to walk the track beforehand.

Just nabbing second on the line was Sophie P from Mike Smith’s nearby Galston stable. The effort maybe won’t have helped her handicap mark but she earned connections nearly £11,000 for chasing home Nezwaah.

Jim Goldie has his horses in cracking form and saddled a double courtesy of Goninodaethat’s eighth course win and Nicholas T, owned and bred by Ayr racecourse owner William Johnstone.

The Renfrewshire handler looked none the worse for being flattened by a nasty kick from debutant juvenile Oriental Power at Hamilton Park on Friday night when he had the crowd in stitches after receiving his prize for Sir Chauvelin making history as the first dual winner of the Braveheart Stakes.

Wise-cracking Jim said that had the flying hoof been a few inches higher it would have been his memorial at the corresponding meeting next year! On a more serious note I hear Sir Chauvelin could be heading to York for a crack at the John Smith’s Cup.

Edinburgh-born trainer Karen McLintock, now based on Tyneside, saddled her first winner at the Lanarkshire venue in the shape of Rockwood. He was ridden by Graham Lee and led up by former amateur Peter Craggs and I wonder if anyone picked up on the link between the pair?

Both are Scottish Grand National-winning jockeys – Peter scored on King Con in 1978 while Graham was successful on Grey Abbey in 2004.

It’s the final fixture of the spring at Kelso this afternoon when a massive crowd is expected for Ladies Day while Ayr first evening meeting of the year on Wednesday has attracted plenty of entries.

Don’t forget to check out our Twitter feed (@ScottishRacing) and www.scottishracing.co.uk for all the latest news.

 

Friday 19th May

I was as shocked as everyone else at Perth on Wednesday night as news filtered through about the sudden death of trainer Alan Swinbank.

It was just a couple of weeks ago at Hamilton Park that I had interviewed him after what turned out to be his final winner, the Joe Fanning-ridden Genres.

Over the past five years it was the Lanarkshire track that had supplied him with more turf winners than anywhere else. And even longer ago, who will ever forget the memorable triumph of Collier Hill in the 2004 Braveheart Stakes.

Alan always had Scottish owners in his yard and it be strange not seeing his runners north of the border anymore.

The weather was kind to Perth and the two-day meeting went with a real swing. Over 6,000 turned up on Ladies Day on Thursday and fashion guru Gok Wan was the star of the show.

The £50,000 Class 1 listed contest – the Tennent’s British Stallion Studs EBF Rothesay Stakes run over one mile two furlongs takes centre stage on Tennent’s Raceday at Ayr on Wednesday.

Last year’s inaugural running of the race, confined to fillies and mares, was won by the Keith Dalgleish trained Maleficent Queen and the five year old is among this year’s entries as is the Jedd O’Keefe trained More Mischief who was runner up last year.

Roger Varian is sending his 108 rated filly, Nezwaah, from Newmarket and her last outing was ina Greade 1 contest in Woodbine, Canada when she finished seventh of 12.

With entries in the Group 1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot in June and the Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh in July she is obviously highly rated by connections.

Other notable entries include three from the Ralph Beckett yard – Desert Haze, Pure Art and Very Dashing and Sir Michael Stoute’s Playful Sound.

The main supporting race on the card is the Guinness Handicap over five furlongs and Jim Goldie will run Tommy G a winner at the track earlier in the month while Keith Dalgleish saddles Dark Defender.

The opening race is the EBF Stallion Appletiser Novice Stakes over six furlongs and Richard Fahey could hold the key here with Ventura Dragon, the mount of Paul Hanagan.

Don’t forget to check out our Twitter feed (@ScottishRacing) and www.scottishracing.co.uk for all the latest news

 

Friday 12th May

Keep an eye on Hibou after he made a low key seasonal debut over a mile at Ayr on Monday.

He only finished sixth but he was given to me by Iain Jardine as his horse to follow on the Flat this season and a step up in trip will suit.

I hear the £22,000 connections forked out for ex-Godolphin inmate in May 2016 will be money well spent. His new trainer is steadily find the key to him and he showed what he is capable of when romping home at Redcar over 1m 2f last backend. Now on a mark of 90, I gather there is more improvement to come so hopefully a big handicap will have his name on it this season.

The opening two days of Ayr Flat campaign saw several impressive winners notably Havana Grey, Dalton and Euchren Glen.

Karl Burke-trained Havana Grey could be Royal Ascot-bound after his romp in the two-year-old contest under P J McDonald and I know his Middleham handler thinks he’s pretty smart.

Dalton fairly scorched home as well and he has clearly come on bundles after his debut over course and distance last summer. Irvine-born Danny Tudhope told me he is a lovely laid-back type who will improve for the run and stay further.

Jim Goldie’s Euchen Glen would have been an unlucky loser on Tuesday had a gap not appeared. But from being behind a wall of horses it was like the parting of the Red Sea inside the final furlong as he quickened up in the style of the progressive horse he is.

After a superb first day family card crowd of over 5,000, Hamilton Park stages its Braveheart Night meeting on Friday.

The feature race is a 76-90 handicap over 1m 4f and has been won by some decent horses over the years notably globetrotting moneyspinners Red Cadeaux and Collier Hill in  2011 and 2004 respectively. ‘Red’s Wine Bar’ near the winners’ enclosure is named after the former and the pair scooped worldwide earnings £7.2 million between them.

Finally this time, best wishes to Peter Buchanan who married long-time girlfriend Jan last week. Jan is originally from Jedburgh and Peter, of course, was long-serving stable jockey to Lucinda Russell prior to his retirement last year.

Don’t forget to check out our Twitter feed (@ScottishRacing) and www.scottishracing.co.uk for all the latest news.

 

Friday 5th May

Hamilton Park opens its new season with a bang this Sunday when two of the seven races are live on ITV.

First up is the £30,000 Totepool Tangerine Trees Conditions Stakes followed by the Totepool Buttonhook Handicap which is worth £20,000.

The former boasts a decent roll of honour with the 2014 winner Mecca’s Angel going on the capture back-to-back victories in the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes at York.

An exciting, competitive two day Spring Festival launches the 2017 Flat season at Ayr Racecourse on Monday and Tuesday.

There are seven races scheduled for each day and a host of leading northern trainers will have runners including Keith Dalgleish, Jim Goldie, Iain Jardine, Mark Johnston, John

Quinn, Tim Easterby, Richard Fahey and Linda Perratt.

Jockey Paul Hanagan, who was leading rider at Ayr for several years before moving south in 2012 returns to the track now he is reunited with Richard Fahey and will be hoping to be among the winners.

The feature race on Monday is a Class 3 mile handicap at 4.30 pm and Scottish trainers have a strong hand here with Iain Jardine’s Hibou, Nicholas T, a recent Doncaster winner for Jim Goldie and Mike Smith’s Sophie P all holding entries.

The opening day’s action concludes with an amateur riders’ handicap at 5.00 pm, also over a mile, and leading amateurs Simon Walker, Serena Brotherton and Carol Bartley all have mounts.

Tuesday’s principal race is a seven furlong handicap at 4.30pm where an interesting runner is Tadaany from the David O’Meara yard with Danny Tudhope riding.

The first race on both days is at 2.00 pm with gates open at noon.

The Kelso campaign has flown by and Wednesday sees the penultimate fixture of the season at the borders track.

Recently the ever appreciative crowd enjoyed Aintree hero One For Arthur on parade and this time they will have the chance to acclaim Highland National winner Boric.

Trained in neighbouring Northumberland by Simon Waugh, a trainer to keep an eye on, he was partnered to victory by Callum Bewley and it was a win that sealed the Northern Conditionals’ Title for the Scots-born pilot.

Callum, son of Jedburgh handler Rob Bewley, is one of several promising young riders under the wing of a certain jockeys’ coach going by the name of Brian Harding!

It was great to see the Borderlescott colours of Scots owners Jimmy Edgar and William Donaldson back in the winners’ enclosure at Musselburgh on Thursday night.

The latest horse to sport their blue and red silks is Royal Brave who followed up his Easter Saturday course and distance success in some style.

I hear the hat-trick attempt is going to come at Wetherby over five and a half furlongs.

Don’t forget to check out our Twitter feed (@ScottishRacing) and www.scottishracing.co.uk for all the latest news

 

Friday 28th April

IT won’t be long until Hamilton Park emerges from its traditional winter hibernation and we can’t wait for the first meeting which is a week today (May 7th).

The seven-race fixture carries £88,000 in prize money and the feature event is the £30,000 Totepool Tangerine Trees Conditions Stakes over 5f. A strong supporting card also includes the £20,000 Totepool Buttonhook Handicap over 1m 5f.  In fact no raceday will be worth less than £50,000 and no individual race worth than £5,000 in a season when the total value rises 15 per cent to £1,166,400.

In total there are 18 meetings in 2017 at the Lanarkshire track which is also a popular venue for conferences, weddings and other events.  An extensive remodelling project has seen the whole of the grandstand first floor transformed with full renovation taking place across the Duke’s Bar and Restaurant, Panorama Bar and Conservatory Cafe.

There is set to be a repeat of Super Saturdays this year.  The concept, a first in British racing, offers all-day entertainment from 12pm as well as live evening racing and some of the big names appearing include X Factor stars Reggie N Bollie, Honey G, and Ryan Lawrie plus Marvin Humes, Matt Terry and Jake Quickenden who are booked for the popular Ladies Night fixture on Saturday 5th August.

One For Arthur will shortly be off on his well-deserved summer holiday. After winning the Grand National, ‘Arthur’ was in constant demand for appearances at Kelso, Musselburgh, Ayr and Perth but this weekend’s visit to the Fife Hunt point to point was his farewell until the autumn.  My money is on him returning to action at Kelso in the backend and then it will be all roads leading back to Aintree for another crack at the National next April.

It was great catch up with three-time champion lady amateur Carol Bartley at the Scottish Grand National festival last weekend.  Carol, who helps out on racedays at Ayr, is riding out several times a week for Keith Dalgleish and she has been busy reminding him not to forget to enter horses for racesfor unpaid riders! We think she is already hoping for a ride in the amateur mile handicap at Ayr’s opening Flat meeting on Monday May 8th.

The 2016-7 jumps campaign may officially have finished yesterday but there are still plenty of opportunities to go national hunt racing this spring and summer at Kelso and Perth.

Don’t forget to check out our Twitter feed (@ScottishRacing) and www.scottishracing.co.uk for all the latest news.

 

Friday 21st April

The two-day meeting at Ayr, boasting £615,000 in prize money, has the £215,000 Coral Scottish Grand National as the highlight and Saturday’s QTS Scottish Champion Hurdle is another cracking race to look forward to.

Saturday is a 17,000 sell out but the action today ain’t too bad either.

After Ayr, the show moves on to Perth for the annual Festival. First staged in 1989, it takes place next week on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and there is always a fabulous mix of quality racing and plenty of socialising in the town afterwards.

The opening day seen the inaugural running of the EBF Stallions Gold Castle national Hunt Novices’ Listed Hurdle, the first ever Listed contest to grace the Scone venue.

‘Gold Castle’ is derived from the Roman fort located on the north bank of the nearby River Tay and a polished bronze saddle quern (a tool used for grinding barley etc) has been commissioned as a perpetual trophy.

Incidentally I hear on the grapevine that another new trophy has been produced for August 19 in another bid to celebrate the city’ cultural roots. The card’s flagship race, the £25,000 Summer Handicap Hurdle, is being re-named the Stone Of Destiny Handicap Hurdle.

Perth has never staged as many Class 2 events before and the feature race at the festival is the £20,000 Highland National over 3m 6f.

Pro-active chief Hazel Peplinski is looking forward to her second year in charge and set a target of a further reduction in non-runners. Last year the number dropped by 18%, and this time she has set a goal of reducing late withdrawals on account of ‘unsuitable ground’ by half.  This will be helped by the installation of a new £25,000 irrigation system. It will enable Perth to produce safe and consistent ground throughout the summer months and give the track team unprecedented control on the challenging job of watering the course.

It was great to see Jimmy Long’s Thistle Bloodstock colours finish first and third in last Saturday’s Queen’s Cup at Musselburgh courtesy of Carbon Dating and The Tartan Spartan.  Glasgow-born Jimmy, a fervent Partick Thistle supporter, was telling me during a round of golf last week that he is aiming Carbon Dating at a Group 3 prize at Chantilly at the end of the month.  He was equally proud of the fact that both horses were sired by his stallion The Carbon Unit, and he was actually disappointed that The Tartan Spartan, who was hampered half-way down the straight, didn’t finish second to his stable companion.

Jimmy has a stud in Ireland where his horses are based with trainer Pat Shanahan. He hopes to have around 33 horses in training this year and predicts his best ever season quality-wise.

Don’t forget to check out our Twitter feed (@ScottishRacing) and www.scottishracing.co.uk for all the latest news.

 

Friday 14th April

Last year’s gallant third Seeyouatmidnight may be missing it, but Sandy Thomson still hopes to go close in Saturday’s £215,000 Coral Scottish Grand National.

The borders trainer tells me his stable star has only suffered a minor setback so he has a couple of races in mind for him later in the , including an ambitious tilt at the French Champion Hurdle.

In the absence of ‘Midnight’, Sandy is aiming Seldom Inn at the Ayr marathon which will be screened live on ITV1. The nine-year-old, around a 16/1 chance, has won twice at Kelso this season and he is normally ridden by highflying Brian Hughes, who also just happens to be the regular partner of Seeyouatmidnight!

All in all, it’s a fantastic two-day festival at Ayr and a sell-out 17,000 Saturday crowd will also be cheering home the winner of the £105,000 QTS Scottish Champion Hurdle.

The SGN’s defunct former home of Bogside is within sight of Scotland’s soon-to-be newest trainer Leonard Kerr. Leonard landed last week’s Buccleuch Cup at Kelso with Havana Jack, his first winner under Rules, and he was telling me has applied for a permit holder’s licence.

A semi-retired auctioneer in the antique furniture business, he has more time on his hands to focus on looking after a small string of jumpers.

James Ewart is predominantly a jumps trainer and he saddled his first ever two-year-old runner at Musselburgh yesterday.  Bloodstock agent Bobby O’Ryan has been trying to persuade the Langholm handler for some time to “dip his toe” in the water and I gather James has five juveniles under his wing. He says the venture is “very exciting” and there is whisper that the best of the bunch to keep an eye on is a well-named colt by Poet’s Voice called Burns Supper.

It’s not long until Perth and Hamilton Park emerge from their traditional mid-winter hibernation, so now is a good time to invest in a members’ badge. It represents terrific value for money as both tracks produce quality action all the way through until the autumn and more details can be found on their respective websites.

Perth opens with a real swing courtesy of the three-day festival on April 26-28 while Hamilton Park starts with Totepool Family Raceday on Sunday May 7.

Don’t forget to check out our Twitter feed (@ScottishRacing) and www.scottishracing.co.uk for all the latest news

 

Friday 7th April

With one day to go until the Randox Health Grand National, we are keeping everything crossed for “Scotland’s contender”, One For Arthur, trainer Lucinda Russell and owners, the Two Golf Widows.

We’ll also be thinking of Erin Walker, who looks after One For Arthur on a daily basis and even on her day off can be found at the yard, checking that he’s ok.  Erin is unable to make the trip to Aintree, so she can stay at home with her children, while her husband is doing his shift as a fireman.  Good luck to all connections and home safe to Arthur.

Buccleuch Cup day, staged at Kelso on Monday, is always an enjoyable meeting and the aforementioned race, though only a maiden hunters’ chase, usually produces a good tale.

Twelve months ago, for example, it was won by New Vic trained by Quona Thomson whose husband Sandy subsequently scored with Imperial Prince on the same card.  A rare double by a couple at the same fixture by all accounts anywhere worldwide according to my research.

Way back in 1958, the Buccleuch Cup went to a certain Merryman II, who two years later was to win the first televised Grand National and also the last with the daunting upright Aintree fences before the now-familiar sloping take-off aprons were introduced.

Merryman was bred by the Marquess Of Linlithgow and, after his death, sold to as a two-year-old to Edinburgh owner Winifred Wallace for the then princely sum of £470. Miss Wallace used the gelding for hunting and rode him in point to points before he was moved to the professional training yard of Neville Crump at Middleham in north Yorkshire. Partnered by Gerry Scott, he enjoyed his date with destiny in 1960 to become the first Scottish-owned winner of the world’s greatest steeplechase.

The year before his Aintree victory, Merryman was successful in the Scottish Grand National, in those days staged at now-defunct Bogside, and the entries were announced for the 2017 renewal this week.  Run at its current home at Ayr since 1966, the £215,000 Coral sponsored event has attracted an initial entry of 76 horses including last year’s1-2-3 of Vicente, Alvarado and Seeyouatmidnight.

Before that the ITV cameras will be at Musselburgh on Easter Saturday for a valuable card featuring the inaugural running of the £100,000 Totepool Queen’s Cup over 1m 6f.

I hear Judy Murray, mother of tennis stars Sir Andy and Jamie, will be a special guest at the East Lothian venue.

If you are looking for some early Flat pointers look no further than Hawick’s latest apprentice prodigy Rowan Scott who has moved from Ann Duffield to join Keith Dalgleish’s Carluke yard.  The word is that there is going to be an almighty push for the apprentice title and the 5lb claimer has got off to the best possible start with two winners from just three rides for his new boss.

Don’t forget to check out our Twitter feed (@ScottishRacing) and www.scottishracing.co.uk for all the latest news.

 

Friday 31st March

LET’S hope it is fourth time lucky for Lucinda Russell in Saturday’s £1 million Randox Health Grand National.

One For Arthur’s Aintree preparation has been going like clockwork since an impressive success at Warwick in January as he illustrated with his ground-devouring stride on the Arlary House gallops earlier this week.

The gelding, bidding to better the efforts of  Lucinda’s Silver By Nature – 12th in 2011, Strong Resolve – 17th in 2005 and Greenhill Raffles – 14th in 1996, is co-owned by Belinda McClung and Deborah Thomson, a partnership officially registered as Two Golf Widows.

Deborah also runs horses under the guise of Two Black Labs and she was successful with Big River at Kelso on Saturday. ‘Debs’, as she is known, has two black labs named Bolly and Krug (christened after her favourite brands of bubbly!) and the canine punters were at the borders track for moral support.  Debs was telling me that she is interested in a new set of racing colours recently released by the BHA featuring a dog motif on the front and paw prints on the sleeves and cap. I think they were made for her!

The other main Scottish interest in the National surrounds The Last Samuri who was second last year for St Boswells couple Paul and Clare Rooney.

Good luck to all and a safe return for everyone taking part.

It was great to hear that Ayr and Musselburgh were among the winners in the latest Racecourse Association Excellence Accolades.  Both retained their five-star rating, the highest grading awarded by VisitScotland, while Musselburgh was also ranked within the top ten per cent of all attractions in Scotland.

The Quality Assured Racecourse Scheme allows VisitScotland (and VisitEngland) to benchmark racecourses against other attractions ensuring that standards of customer experience remain high in the face of competition from other sporting and leisure venues.

The national tourism boards provide a rating on the racecourse as a quality day out, taking into account efficiency and friendliness of customer service, cleanliness of facilities as well as speed, quality and efficiency of the racecourse operation.

Best wishes go to Grangemouth-born former Flat ace Allan Mackay after the 57-year-old suffered a serious fall on the gallops at Newmarket last Saturday.  It hasn’t been a good time for the family as Allan’s youngest son Nicky suffered serious injuries when a horse crashed through the rails at Chelmsford a fortnight ago.

Don’t forget to check out our Twitter feed (@ScottishRacing) and www.scottishracing.co.uk for all the latest news.

 

Friday 24th March
My fingers, and those of many others, are firmly crossed that Derek Fox gets the all clear this week to ride One For Arthur in the £1 million Randox Health Grand National.
The jockey has been fast-tracking his rehabilitation in Jack Berry House in Malton for over a fortnight since fracturing his right wrist and damaging his left collarbone in a crunching fall.
Lucinda Russell reports One For Arthur has never been better and that his preparation for Aintree on April 8th has been going like clockwork.

Lucinda’s horses are in decent form as advertised by Sammy B following up wins at Kelso and Musselburgh at a pretty muddy Haydock on Wednesday.

Sammy B is owned and bred by former St Johnstone chairman Geoff Brown and he told me it wasn’t a bad effort from an orphan foal whose foster mother was a Clydesdale mare!

Scotland is one trainer less as George Bewley has moved back to his Cumbrian roots after a fair old spell based in Bonchester Bridge near Hawick.  George is now at Bolton in the Appleby area where his nearest neighbour Kenneth Slack has been allowing him use of his gallops while his own are being constructed.  A native of West Cumbia, George is steadily building up his new premises and has plenty of hills and grassland to keep horses nice and fit. Hopefully the winners will start to flow soon.

Someone moving in the opposite direction is Cartmel supremo Jonathan Garratt who has been appointed managing director at Kelso after spending nearly seven years in the southern Lakeland region.

Jonathan, who was the helm of Scottish Racing between November 2004 and August 2010, takes over in the summer from Richard Landale who will remain on as a director and will assist with sponsorship.

It was great to see plenty of students taking advantage of a superb offer at Musselburgh’s final jumps meeting of the season on Friday. The deal featured a special package deal of £8.99 which included admission, a drink, a racecard, a £2 Tote bet and a tipster talk.

Don’t forget to check out our Twitter feed (@ScottishRacing) and www.scottishracing.co.uk for all the latest news.

 

Friday 17th March

Sunderland manager David Moyes was all smiles after his colours were carried to victory by Desert Cry at Ayr last Saturday.

His club are rooted to the bottom of the Premier League so it was a welcome change of luck for Moyes who co-owns the gelding with former Ayr United and Stranraer manager Neill Watt.

David, who loves a day at the races, told me that trainer Donald McCain wants to run Desert Cry at Aintree next month so hopefully he’ll have another big day to look forward to.

There was the usual sell out crowd at Langholm Rugby Club last Sunday for the annual Cheltenham Preview night in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund.

The panel featured Jim Goldie, Sandy Thomson and Craig Nichol and their own horses to follow were added to the Festivals tips.

Sandy revealed that his stable star Seeyouatmidnight could run over hurdles at Kelso this weekend on his way to either the Irish or Scottish National.

Jim’s one-liners prompted plenty of laughter and he told everyone to look out for Picture Painter when he goes over hurdles later in the spring. At the end of the night nearly £2,500 was raised for a very good cause.

There was an even bigger crowd at a Festival Preview night in Hamilton last Friday when the star turn was Paul Carberry.

A Grand national-winning jockey aboard Bobbyjo in 1999, now-retired Paul also scooped no less than 15 winners at the big March meeting in a stellar career.

‘Alice’, as he’s known, had the punters in stitches with some of his antics and his stylish riding is sorely missed since he was forced to retire last year due to a serious leg injury.

We hear there will be an announcement this week regarding the new boss at Kelso racecourse. The vacancy arose after long-serving managing director Richard Landale decided to take a back seat at the borders venue.

Next action in Scotland takes place at Musselburgh on Friday followed by Kelso on Saturday when ITV will broadcast two races from a decent card.

If you would like to receive a monthly e-newsletter with all the Scottish-related racing news you can now get the Scottish Racing Round-Up sent direct to your email address by subscribing via the website below.

So don’t forget to check out our Twitter feed (@ScottishRacing) and www.scottishracing.co.uk for all the latest news.

 

Friday 10th March

It was great to hear that prize money at Hamilton Park will break the £1 million mark.

The 15 per cent boost from 2016, up to over £1.166m, is part of an investment programme designed to bolster things on and off the track with a further £800,000 earmarked for refurbishment of the grandstand restaurant, bar and private hospitality facilities.

Work has already begun on the project and will be complete in time for the start of the new 18 meeting season on May 7. Suggestions for new names for the rebranded bar and restaurant, encapsulating the racecourse and history, are being invited across Hamilton Park’s social media network.

In addition, all fixtures will be worth at least £50,000 and no individual race will be staged for less than £5,000.  Chief executive Vivien Currie said: “This is a very exciting time at Hamilton Park and we never stand still. As a venue and a business we continually strive to improve the race-day experience for our customers and the wider community and this landmark programme of improvements reflect that ethos.”

Well done also to Kelso for winning the Event Of The Year 2017 at the Live Borders Celebration Of Sport Awards recently.  The popular track received a magnificent crystal trophy of the eve of its high-profile Premier Hurdle and Chase card last Saturday.

Malcolm Jefferson was all smiles after Mount Mews strolled home in the Grade 2 hurdle and he told me afterwards that Aintree was the plan.  He is set to tackle the Grade 1 novice hurdle won a couple of years ago by recent Morebattle Hurdle scorer Cyrus Darius who is a live outsider in Tuesday’s Champion Hurdle. I’ll be giving the Malton raider an extra cheer as he’s owned by Scotsman Graeme Calder.

Keep an eye too on recent Haydock winner Captain Redbeard who has a great chance of running a big race for Selkirk father and son combination Stuart and Sam Coltherd in the final event on Tuesday.

And big shouts also to our other Scottish runners Mixboy for Keith Dalgleish, another likely to run on Tuesday, and Shade Of Midnight for Hawick’s Donald Whillans in Thursday’s Pertemps Final.

The trio are all available at between 20/1 and 33/1 so an each-way treble could be the way to go!

Don’t forget to check out our Twitter feed (@ScottishRacing) and scottishracing.co.uk for all the latest news.

 

Monday 6th March

There has been plenty going on in the Scottish racing scene this week including a visit of the British Horseracing Authority Roadshow to Musselburgh on Tuesday.

The event, held in the Queen’s Stand, featured appearances and comments from several leading industry figures notably BHA chief executive Nick Rust whose family have apparently been annual members at Kelso for years!

MSP Rachael Hamilton also had a few words to say and she recalled her racing experience went all the way back to backing 1984 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Burrough Hill Lad as a teenager.

All five Scottish racecourses were represented including Ayr where racing manager Emma Marley is leaving shortly to join the BHA as Head Of Raceday Operations giving her responsibility for starters, clerks of scales and judges.

Lucinda Russell and Nick Alexander were in attendance and both have been among the winners recently. The former struck with Kilbree Chief at Ayr on Monday and Alizee De Janeiro Musselburgh on Wednesday while Nick was on the mark at the same two fixtures with Craiganboy and Top Cat Henry respectively. Top Cat Henry was an eyecatching scorer in the hunters’ chase under son Kit and the plan is to target him at the Fox Hunters’ Chase at Aintree’s Grand National festival next month. Remember this was the race scooped by Stuart Coltherd’s 100/1 Selkirk raider Tartan Snow in 2013.

Classic form on the Flat got a stark reality check at Musselburgh when Windshear trailed in a well-beaten 10th in the maiden hurdle. It was a far from auspicious debut over hurdles for a horse that was a close fourth in the 2014 St Leger.

The race itself will be remembered for a brilliant recovery by Will Kennedy on easy winner Dear Sire at the final flight. Will rode out the finish Roy Rogers style with both feet out of the stirrups having clambered back into the saddle when Dear Sire nearly ejected him a few strides after the last.

Rachael McDonald has made a fine start to her professional career and she rode her first winner from the paid ranks on Mcgowan’s Pass at Newcastle last Saturday. Her second win came on Buckled at Musselburgh on Wednesday and she shines when it comes to getting horses settled and jumping as she proved when landing the Borders National on Harry The Viking.

Don’t forget to check out our Twitter feed (@ScottishRacing) and scottishracing.co.uk for all the latest news.

Friday 24th February

WE’RE in for a busy racing week in Scotland and the action starts with a valuable card at Ayr on Monday.

I notice Mike Smith has a few entries and he could be worth following now his Galston yard has hit peak form.

The concluding bumper catches my eye as Golden Jeffrey is a rare runner under national hunt Rules for Mark Johnston. The Kingsley House trainer is normally winning his share of races at Ayr on the Flat but his recent Catterick third is an interesting contender under amateur rider Alex Ferguson, the son of Godolphin supremo John Ferguson.

Musselburgh has healthy entries for a seven-race meeting on Wednesday and then the show moves on to Kelso for a cracking Grade 2 Premier Hurdle and Listed Premier Chase fixture on Saturday which carries £101,000 in prize money.

It’s good to hear that Connor Beasley will be getting plenty of rides from the Keith Dalgleish stable in the coming months.  As the Flat turf season approaches, Connor has been riding out for the Carluke trainer several times a week and he will be sharing the bulk of the mounts with Phillip Makin.  Keith has a huge string of horses, around 120, as he bids to match, or better, a fabulous tally of 93 winners (including 12 over jumps) in 2016.

Sad news that David Savala, a great supporter of Keith’s Belstane Racing Stables over the years, has passed away after a long illness. Along with Robin Galbraith and Gordon Leckie, David enjoyed a fair bit of success with horses in the partnership’s name of GLS.

What it day it was for Stuart and Sam Coltherd at Haydock last Saturday. The Selkirk-based father and son combination struck with Captain Redbeard and I’m sure Sam will long dine out on the story of the day he pipped Sam Twiston-Davies by a short-head in a photo finish!

I see that talented mare Absolute Blast has changed hands and raced from the Archie Watson stable for the first time in the Winter Derby at Lingfield yesterday.  She had a fruitful time when trained by Iain Jardine and won’t two handicaps and was second in her other two starts for the Dumfriesshire handler. Mind you she was a useful sort before she joined ‘Scobie’ as she appeared in the 2015 French Oaks at Chantilly.

Don’t forget to check out our Twitter feed (@ScottishRacing) and scottishracing.co.uk for all the latest news

 

Friday 17th February

There were small but select fields at Kelso on Thursday, however we can’t help thinking we can expect plenty of future winners to emerge from the card.

The Morebattle Hurdle, which went to Cyrus Darius for Scotsman Graeme Calder, has been won in the past by Large Action and Peddlers Cross who both went on to finish second in the Champion Hurdle itself.  It has also gone in the past to subsequent dual Festival scorer Simonsig while Zaynar suffered a shock defeat at 1/14 in 2010 before a fine third in that year’s hurdling championship.

We’re not saying Cyrus Darius is a sure thing for Cheltenham (Born Survivor would have run him close had he not fallen two out), but we don’t think he would be disgraced if allowed to take his chance. That eventuality remains in the balance as trainer Malcolm Jefferson was non-committal about his targets when Gordon Brown interviewed him post-race on Racing UK as he’s also in the Coral Cup.

Saphir Du Rheu, winning for the first time in almost two years when bagging the Ivan Straker Memorial Chase, holds entries in both the Gold Cup and Grand National. It was a beaming Sam Twiston-Davies that told us ebullient owner Andy Stewart hasn’t ruled out a tilt at Cheltenham now he has got his confidence back.

As revealed here, Rachael McDonald has turned professional and her first ‘paid’ ride came on well-supported Rowdy Rocher at Kelso. There was to be no fairytale outcome as the combination trailed in a well-beaten fifth.

Two local trainers made the headlines at Ayr’s tenth jumps fixture of the season on Tuesday. Las Tunas started the ball rolling for Galston handler Mike Smith, whose horses are now in terrific form while No No Mac landed a bit of a touch for Ian Duncan, an Irishman based just five miles from the track at Coylton. Ian has only run six individual horses this season and all bar one has managed a win!

Speaking of Ayr, Lee Newman made his latest comeback in Australia on Wednesday when he finished seventh on Rogue Empress trained by his new employer Fred Kersley. He’s based at Perth and, with his weight back under control, he’s already been dubbed ‘The Flying Scotsman’ by local commentators.

The next racing in Scotland takes place at Ayr on 27th February, when there is substantial prize money up for grabs. Feature event is a £15,000 novices’ limited handicap chase over 2m 4f while there is a £12,000 handicap hurdle over the same trip.

Don’t forget to check out our Twitter feed (@ScottishRacing) and scottishracing.co.uk for all the latest news

 

Friday 3rd February 2017

Conditional rider Dale Irving is on the move but he still hasn’t too far to commute to his new base from his home in Langholm.

Having left James Ewart recently, he has gone a few miles west across Dumfriesshire to the Carrurtherstown yard of Iain Jardine.  Best of luck goes to likeable Dale whose big moneyspinner in recent years has been Aristo Du Plessis on whom he has won five races.

It’s great to see two Scottish-trained horses are among the 110 entries for the £1million Randox Health Grand National at Aintree on April 8th.  Recent Warwick winner One For Arthur represents Lucinda Russell while Ayrshire handler Ian Duncan has pencilled in his 2015 Eider Chase hero Milborough.  The last time a National winner was trained in Scotland was 1979 when Denholm-based John Leadbetter saddled Rubstic to victory.

There are also a few Scottish-owned entries in the world’s greatest steeplechase.  Auroras Encore landed the 2013 renewal for Jim Beaumont and Douglas Pryde and the pair are represented by Maggio.  Trained in Ireland by Patrick Griffin, Maggio missed the cut by seven in 2015 and was fourth reserve last year, so hopefully it will be third time lucky. I hear he is set to have his Aintree prep race in the Ivan Straker Memorial Chase at Kelso next week.

Borders couple Paul and Clare Rooney are triple-handed and their entries include Kim Bailey’s The Last Samuri who was such a gallant runner-up last year to Rule The World.  Ayr-born Chris Giles is also the co-owner of Paul Nicholls-trained Le Mercurey who took the future Champion Novices’ Chase at Ayr last spring.  Fingers crossed there might just be tartan ribbons on the newly-designed Grand National trophy.

As revealed here, Rachael McDonald is turning professional and she told us at Ayr on Monday she is expecting her conditional licence to be granted shortly. Her talents were again well advertised on Sandy Thomson’s Mcgowan’s Pass who ran a mighty race to finish second in the bumper on his racecourse debut.

Day two of Musselburgh’s Cheltenham trials on Sunday looks another quality card and star names such as Sam Twiston-Davies, Nico de Boinville and Barry Geraghty are just a few of the jockeys in action.  The last named will fancy his chances in the 4.10 as Nicky Henderson-trained Cup Final bids to land the race for  the second year running.

Don’t forget to check out our Twitter feed (@ScottishRacing) and scottishracing.co.uk for all the latest news.

 

 

Friday 27th January

It’s onwards and upwards for Absolute Blast who has done little wrong since joining Iain Jardine.

A mare that appeared in the 2015 French Oaks, she has clearly appreciated the Dumfriesshire air and boasts two wins and a head second since arriving at her new home overlooking the Solway estuary.

Iain already has her entered in next month’s Group 3 Winter Derby at Lingfield and she’s also likely to head for the valuable all-weather on Good Friday at the same venue or possibly even the Lincoln. But, before those heady engagements, she could attempt the hat-trick in a fillies handicap at Wolverhampton on Tuesday.

It’s great to hear it confirmed that Lucinda Russell has entered recent impressive Warwick winner One For Arthur in the £1m Grand National, sponsored for the first time this year by Randox Health. Entries for the Aintree marathon close at noon on Tuesday and Lucinda was delighted he’s been raised by 10lb to a mark of 147 which greatly enhances his chances of making the final line-up of 40 at 5.15pm on April 8th.

Even though he was favourably treated by the weights as the only four-year-old, how impressive was Project Bluebook at Musselburgh last Friday? He ripped a competitive handicap hurdle field apart and I reckon this useful ex-Flat recruit could be a serious prospect.

John Quinn landed the 2012 Triumph Hurdle with another juvenile Countrywide Flame but this time I gather the Malton handler is targeting the Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle for Project Bluebook. He’s currently a best-priced 20/1 and there are plenty of less-tempting ante-post value at the moment, especially given the fact he’s gone up almost a stone for his Musselburgh romp.

Still time to get plenty of value from an annual membership at our five Scottish racecourses and remember Hamilton Park and Perth have yet to open their doors in 2017!

It’s shaping up to be a cracking card at Ayr tomorrow and champion jockey Richard Johnson is set to be in action. I see also Adrian Heskin, new stable jockey to Tom George, is booked for a ride in the bumper. If he appears it will be Adrian’s first visit to Ayr and indeed only his second ride north of the border – his only previous mount in Scotland, Kilbree Kid, came at Perth in September and it was a winner!

Don’t forget to check out our Twitter feed (@ScottishRacing) and scottishracing.co.uk for all the latest news.

 

Friday 20th January


Congratulations to Ayr racing manager and clerk of the course Emma Marley who has been appointed head of raceday operations with the BHA. Emma, who has been at Ayr since 2010, moves into her new position in April which means she will have five more meetings to oversee and the two-day March fixture will be her swansong. Her job sees her having responsibility for the management of various raceday regulatory teams including racecourse inspectors, starters, clerks of scales and judges. In addition the role will also involve racecourse licensing, point to point racing and the BHA’s relationship with Arab racing.  Emma’s successor as clerk of the course is Graeme
Anderson who knows the track like the back of hand as he is currently head groundsman.

Best wishes go out to Tyrone Williams as he recovers from a stroke.  After a decent career as a Flat jockey, the Welshman reinvented himself on the borders flapping circuit where he developed a cult following.  His biggest success came in the 1997 Ebor on 33/1 chance Far Ahead when the combination pipped Frankie Dettori ridden Media Star by a neck.   There is a charity dinner at Hawick Rugby Club in March when some of the proceeds will go to Tyrone’s rehabilitation.
It should be quite a night at Mansfield Park as Keith Dalgleish and Iain Jardine – two of the town’s famous sons – are among the guest speakers.

 

Friday 13th January

RAITH Rovers are currently pushing for promotion into the Premier League and the supporters of the Fife club were on another winner at Lingfield this week.

Ross Raith Rover, named after their 20-year-old midfielder Ross Matthews, scored for the first time in the maiden handicap at the rewarding odds of 9/2.  Ross’s father Ian is a part-owner of the winner who was the first of 2017 for Newmarket trainer Robert Eddery, a brother of the late champion jockey Pat Eddery.

There is another football-themed horse running for the syndicate in the next week or two as they have Tynecastle Park lined up for a race at Southwell.  Look out for Lee Newman, champion apprentice with 87 winners in 2000 while with Richard Hannon, making another return to the saddle.  The Ayr-born 35-year-old is set to stage his comeback in Australia where he has been an assistant trainer for the past two years.  Lee, who lost six stone before resuming his career in 2011 when he recorded 43 winners, has passed the necessary medical and expects to riding ‘down under’ as early as next month.  Now-based in Perth after a stint in Melbourne, Lee should benefit from the weights being higher and there also good prize money up for grabs.  We all wish him well and we’ll keep you updated on his progress.

It was sad to hear of the death of triple Grand National-winning jockey Brian Fletcher at the age of 69.  His last two victories came in 1973 & 1974 aboard Aintree legend Red Rum and he also bagged the 1968 marathon on Red Alligator.  Brian’s first-ever winner was at Ayr in April 1965 and, despite all his big-race wins, he always maintained his career highlight was landing the 1974 Scottish National on Red Rum.

To this day no other horse, before or since, has won the Aintree or Ayr version in the same season and a bronze sculpture of ‘Rummy’ can been seen outside the entrance of the Western House Hotel.

Ayr stages a new competitive two-day fixture this Monday and Tuesday and healthy entries feature horses from all over the UK and Ireland.

Two Taffs could contest the novices’ chase on Tuesday and he was the horse that took Dan Skelton to a maiden century when winning over hurdles on Scottish National day last season.

And, finally this time, great prize money on offer at Kelso on Sunday, when there is a £25,000 chase and £20,000 hurdle.  Gloucestershire trainer Ben Pauling has rare track runners in Perfect Pirate and Red Indian and both have excellent chances.

Don’t forget to check out our Twitter feed (@ScottishRacing)

 

Friday 6th January

If you’re after a jockey in form, look no further than East Lothian-born Andrew Mullen.

Nicknamed ‘Midge’, the diminutive Flat rider may not have moved with Mick Appleby to his new base in the Midlands, but that hasn’t stopped him booting in plenty of winners

including a couple of recent trebles at Southwell.  Andrew, whose home is near Scotch Corner, will still ride for certain owners in Appleby’s yard but he is now operating as a freelance and he should be supplied with plenty of firepower from the likes of David Barron, David Evans and Mark Johnston.  Last year saw him ride 57 winners, just five shy of his highest score in 2015. Don’t bet against him scaling new heights in the months ahead.

The New Year got off to a flying start at Musselburgh when a crowd of over 6,400 was 1,000 up on the corresponding card in 2016.  Superb Story produced a decent weight-carrying performance in the feature, which according to his trainer Dan Skelton, earns him an entry in the Champion Hurdle.  He knows where the Cheltenham winning post is as he landed last season’s County Hurdle (he’ll be entered in that too) so he could represent early each-way value at a toppriced 25/1.

No Scottish winners on Ne’rday, but there were four at Ayr on the 2nd including a double for Sandy Thomson. Rowdy Rocher, ridden to victory by the ever-impressive Rachael McDonald, carries the colours of North Queensferry couple Michelle and Dan Macdonald who have had horses trained by Paul Nicholls, Lucinda Russell and Nick Alexander.

Once again Emma Marley and her groundstaff team at Ayr played a blinder by deploying the frost sheets on the entire course. It was -6c just a few miles away and the covers ensured racing went ahead in front of a crowd of more than 3,500, the highest at this fixture since 1994.

Back at Musselburgh on Tuesday saw Keith Dalgleish saddle his first winners of 2017 – his opening Flat scorer arrived the following afternoon at Wolverhampton.  He was telling me he’s building another 40 boxes as he has around 130 horses in his Belstane Stables at Carluke.  Last year saw Keith’s yard record a best-ever 93 winners consisting of 81 on the Flat and 12 over jumps.  The word is he has the thick end of 50 two-year-olds so another highly success campaign appears to be round the corner.

Don’t forget to check out our Twitter feed (@ScottishRacing) and www.scottishracing.co.uk for all the latest news.

 

Friday 30th December

IT’S a busy start to 2017 in Scotland and it all gets underway with a cracking New Year’s Day meeting at Musselburgh.

Racegoers have plenty to keep them entertained as the horseracing will be supplemented by the 148th New Year Sprint, a 110m dash for professional athletes dating back to 1870. Last year saw Jedburgh’s Jazmine Tomlinson create history as she scotched home to become the first female to collect the £4,000 winners’ cheque.  The semi-finals and final will be staged in between the racing on a cracking card that boasts £128,000 in prize money.

As an added bonus Musselburgh will feature in the first programme broadcast by ITV Racing along with Cheltenham. Two races will be screened from the East Lothian venue and they include the £40,000 highlight, the aptly-named totepool Hogmaneigh Handicap Hurdle won last year by James Ewart’s Aristo De Plessis who bids for a follow-up.

The action moves on to Ayr tomorrow and back to Musselburgh on Tuesday.

A big well done must go to borders amateur rider Tom Hamilton after his first winner in Ireland aboard Aeglos at Leopardstown on Boxing Day.  He is based with the winner’s trainer Joseph O’Brien and there is a great picture of the Hawick 21-year-old flanked by Aidan O’Brien, Charlie Swan and Aeglos’ owner J P McManus.

Tom’s dad Michael was in his role as BHA clerk of the scales at Kelso on Thursday and he was telling me he went over to Joseph’s for three months last summer and loved it so much he decided to make a go of it.  Mum Wendy has supplied Tom with three wins courtesy of crack hunter chaser Cave Hunter – who appeared in last season’s Foxhunter Chase at Cheltenham – while his aunt Alison Hamilton has given him double that number including three with Granaruid.  It’s quite a family as Tom’s older brother Jamie is having another fine season and is best remembered for scooping the 2013 Aintree Fox Hunters’ Chase on 100/1 outsider Tartan Snow.

A pat on the back must also go to veteran jockey Andrew Thornton after he finally reached the magic 1,000 winner mark at Wincanton the same afternoon.

The 44-year-old had his first ride at Kelso in November 1990 on Brave Ruler, who slipped up, but he had better memories of Scotland when landing the 2001 Scottish National on Gingembre.

And fantastic to see Lucy Alexander back in the winners’ enclosure at Kelso.

Promising mare Jolie Crickette was her first success since sustaining a shoulder injury at Ayr earlier in the autumn.

Don’t forget to check out our Twitter feed (@ScottishRacing) and www.scottishracing.co.uk for all the latest news.

 

Friday 14th December

It was brilliant to see the Queen have a winner at Musselburgh on Wednesday in the shape of Forth Bridge under Brian Hughes.  ‘Hughesy’ just can’t stop riding winners although he ‘lost’ one at Catterick the previous day due to going to scale 2lb light after some lead fell out of his weight cloth during the race.  I was checking some stats on Royal successes at the East Lothian venue and it turns out the last winner for the Queen was Sir Michael Stoute-trained Maclean who won a Flat maiden for Kieren Fallon in April, 2004.

Looking ahead to New Year’s Day, it promises to be quite an occasion at Musselburgh.  As well as the track featuring in the first new ITV Racing broadcast (along with Cheltenham), I hear advance bookings are going like hot cakes and the meeting is likely to be a sell-out. Scotland’s last action before Christmas takes place at Ayr tomorrow when our premier track stages a six-race card.

Nick Alexander saddled his first treble under Rules at theprevious fixture at the Craigie course and the Kinneston trainer has plenty of entries including Titian Boy.  He is on a hat-trick following his recent course success and Nick told me he reckons he is still progressive and with Brian Hughes on board again what could possibly go wrong!

Katie Scott, who has been starring in The River on BBC Scotland, enjoyed her first Ayr winner recently and I see she has a couple of entries from her Galashiels stable.  Best wishes go to former trainer Alistair Charlton & his wife who were involved in a serious car accident a fortnight ago.  Alistair will forever be remembered as the man that saddled Tot to victory in the first race over jumps at Musselburgh on 5th January 1987.

If you are looking for the ideal Christmas present for a racing mad friend or relative why not check out the annual members deals on offer from Ayr, Hamilton Park, Kelso, Musselburgh and Perth.  As well as the meetings at those tracks, there are also stacks of reciprocal days at other courses which makes it terrific value for money.  A sure-fire winner as a stocking filler.  You’ll find contact details for all five Scottish tracks on the Scottish Racing website below.

Don’t forget to check out our Twitter feed (@ScottishRacing) and scottishracing.co.uk for all the latest news.

 

9th December 2016

WHAT a brilliant day it was at Kelso last Sunday when Rachael McDonald landed the Persimmon Homes Scottish Borders National on Harry The Viking to give Sandy Thomson a third successive win in the race.

It was three wins on-the-bounce too for Edinburgh owner Jim Beaumont, whose ill-fated Neptune Equester scored in 2014 and 2015, and he is also the man that co-owned 2013 Grand National hero Auroras Encore.

Sandy’s dad, David, was chairman at Kelso for many years so he loves to have winners at the venue which is only a few miles from his Berwickshire base.

But it was afternoon that will live long in Racheal’s memory and the 25-year-old got cheered into the winners’ enclosure with a reception that could be heard all the way back to her home town of Selkirk.

I was sorry to hear of the death of James Adam, a former trainer and owner who passed away recently.

James loved a punt and landed some nice touches with horses such as Monnaie Forte who, along with Bold Classic, reportedly netted him a cool £160,000 when the pair scooped a memorable double at Sandown in 1998. Quite a gamble even by today’s standards.

He was a larger than life character and racing in Scotland will be all the poorer with his passing at the age of 71.

Nick Alexander won’t forget his day at Ayr on Monday in a hurry. The Kinneston trainer saddled ten runners and went home with his first-ever treble under Rules that was completed by a 1-2-3 in the final leg!

Unfortunately daughter Lucy is still sidelined but hopefully the stable will remain in red-hot form when the former champion conditional returns to the saddle.

And a huge pat on the back goes to racing manager Emma Marley and her team as the meeting wouldn’t have survived without the frost  blankets that covered the entire course.

I hear the initiative cost around £5,000 but it was money well spent.

With the unseasonably mild weather there shouldn’t be any problems at Musselburgh on Wednesday when the feature race is the £20,000 Racing UK Anywhere Introductory Juvenile Hurdle.

A decent bunch of entries include Keith Dalgleish’s course and distance winner Cape Of Glory and Charlie Longsdon-trained Forth Bridge owned and bred by The Queen.

Don’t forget to check out our Twitter feed (@ScottishRacing) and scottishracing.co.uk for all the latest news.

 

 

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