For all of the latest news from the Scottish tracks, and tips for forthcoming racedays from our own Gordon Brown, listen to the Scottish Racing Podcast – CLICK BELOW!
Friday 17th November
Best wishes go to Lucy Alexander as she recovers from a nasty spill at Hexham last Friday when she suffered concussion after being badly trampled by several flying hooves.
According to her dad Nick, the former champion conditional pilot was in good spirits but confirmed she is not the best at watching racing from an armchair especially when two of her intended rides won at Kelso on Saturday!
Hopefully Lucy will be back in action in the next week or so as her two main stables, Nick’s and the James Ewart yard, have both been in decent form lately.
I hear another young lady, Katie Scott, has been granted a Flat licence to train from her base which is situated between Galashiels and Selkirk.
Katie was jumping for joy after Chain Of Beacons, under a nice ride from Callum Bewley, won at Kelso on just his second start for new connections.
The ex-Sandy Thomson trained gelding was Katie’s first success since Benefit In Kind scored at Musselburgh on January 20th.
Keith Dalgleish became the first Scottish-based trainer to reach 100 winners in a calendar year when Chanceanotherfive landed the bumper at Newcastle on Friday.
The Carluke handler has enjoyed 84 wins on the Flat plus 16 under national hunt Rules and there are still six weeks of 2017 remaining!
A tremendous feat.
On a sad note many of northern racing’s finest paid their last respects at the funeral of former
dual-purpose handler Mary Reveley this week.
Numerically she was the UK’s most successful female trainer of all time and she retired with a career total of 2,010 winners.
It was nice to hear her say a few years ago that Kelso was one of her favourite racecourses and that wasn’t her only Scottish connection as she had many owners from north of the border while her long-time stable jockey was Broughty Ferry-born Peter Niven.
A big well done goes to all the team at Hamilton Park as the Lanarkshire track scooped the Owners’ Experience at Thursday night’s glittering RCA Showcase Awards bash.
It was deserved recognition for the investment in the owners’ facilities and in an extremely competitive category as well.
Finally this week five-time champion jockey Willie Carson celebrated his 75th birthday on Thursday.
It only seems like yesterday that the wee man from Stirling was booting home big name Derby winners such as Nashwan, Troy and Erhaab while the St Leger came his way aboard Dunfermline, Sun Princess and Minster Son, a colt he also bred.
Before hanging up his saddle in 1996, Willie passed 100 winners in a season an incredible 23 times and won no less than 17 British Classics.
A proper Scottish racing legend.
Friday 10th November
Nakeeta did his connections, and Scotland, proud when galloping home an honourable fifth in the Melbourne Cup early on Tuesday morning.
Coming from well off the pace, Iain Jardine’s Dumfriesshire raider stayed on right to the line where he was six and half lengths adrift of Joseph O’Brien-trained winner Rekindling.
Ridden by South African-born jockey Glyn Schofield, the six-year-old did best of those racing in the rear group and picked up a cool £103,000 for his efforts.
Speaking from Australia, Jardine said: “It was a great performance and the wee horse has run a great race. He didn’t get in a position to win but he stayed on well.
“It was a good ride from Glyn from a moderate draw and off a slowish pace. He jumped off and said they would definitely have been in the first three with a better draw.
“But I have no complaints as he finished in front of a lot of good horses and I always thought the winner was well-handicapped and one of the main dangers. After all he has been running in Classics and was fourth in the St Leger and second in the Irish equivalent.
“I expect Nakeeta will be back in the UK early next week and then he’ll have a well-deserved holiday. His owners were well pleased with the run but we haven’t really made any plans for next season – handicaps could be tough so maybe Listed races are the way to go.
“He’s seems ok and has come out of the race well. Bruce and Chris Lynn, who have been with him all along, have done a fantastic job with him and he was spot on for the big day.”
A brand new £100,000 race will be staged at the Coral Scottish Grand National Festival at Ayr in April bringing prize-money on the day to more than £550,000.
Sitting alongside the £215,000 Scottish National and the £105,000 QTS Scottish Champion Hurdle the three mile open novices’ handicap chase will further enhance the meeting, which is already by far and away Scotland’s richest and most prestigious day’s racing.
The race will be a championship final for novice chasers who to qualify must have finished in the first eight in at least one weight for age novices’ or beginners chase during the 2017-2018 season and will be supported by the BHA’s Development Fund as part of the Fund’s 2018 expenditure.
Speaking of Ayr, it was great see the Craigie venue awarded ‘Gold Standard’ by the Racehorse Owners Association in the large racecourse category for the third year running.
In the small course section well done also goes to Hamilton Park and Musselburgh (both third time winners) and, along with Ayr, they will be in contention for the Racecourse of the Year which will be announced at the ROA Awards in London next month.
Friday 3rd November
Nakeeta flies the flag for Scotland in Tuesday’s £3.5 million Melbourne Cup, the ‘race that stops a nation’.
The Dumfriesshire raider, trained at Carrutherstown by Iain Jardine, guaranteed a run in the mega bucks two-mile handicap in which he is set to carry 8st 5lb.
Connections have booked veteran South African-born jockey Glyn Schofield for the ride on a horse that was bred by former international footballer Mick Channon.
Nakeeta, the winner of Britain’s richest Flat handicap – the Betfred Ebor – is a best-priced 20/1 chance for glory in the early hours of Tuesday UK time.
Speaking from Australia, Jardine told me: “There is actually prize money of around £70,000 for coming tenth but I’m hoping we finish a lot closer than that! I’m really pleased with the way he looks and he has taken the journey to the other side of the world in his stride – Bruce and Chris Lynn, who came with him, have done a great job.”
Jardine explained that it was the exploits of last year’s Ebor hero Heartbreak City that persuaded him to send Nakeeta half-way around the world.
The Hawick-born trainer said: “He had a similar profile to us and was only beaten a head into second place. He was carrying a couple of pounds less than we are but it is a really hot race and there are lots of horses in with chances.
“However I’d say I have Nakeeta as well as he was before he won the Ebor. I’m quite confident he will run well but you need a bit of luck. What a feat it would be if we could pull it off.”
Full marks to Vivien Currie and her team as Hamilton Park has unveiled plans for a £10 million hotel development on its grounds.
The 118-guest room property, operating under Hilton’s fastest growing brand, Hampton by Hilton, is to be built on what is currently the main public car park of the racecourse grounds.
It is a project that will bring up to 20 new jobs to the racecourse, doubling the current number of employees, with a variety of roles in managerial, professional, customer service and administrative positions.
The Hamilton Park executive team has undertaken extensive feasibility studies into the development and projects it will generate an additional £5.9million per year in additional visitor expenditure in the area, and add a gross value of £700,000 per year to the economy, with £400,000 of that directly in South Lanarkshire.
And, finally this week, Musselburgh’s jumping season gets underway on Wednesday when the action starts at 12.45. It was of course back in January 1987 that national hunt racing commenced at the popular East Lothian venue.
A total of ten jumps meetings are due to be held in 2017-18 with a total of £640,000 in prize money up for grabs.
Don’t forget to check out our Twitter feed (@ScottishRacing) and www.scottishracing.co.uk for all the latest news.
Friday 27th October
Sometime next year racing is likely to have a new winning-most trainer and I’m delighted to say he’s Scottish.
Mark Johnston, who saddled his 4,000th domestic Flat winner, courtesy of Dominating at Pontefract on Monday, has also won five races over jumps and he’s on the heels of the total of 4,193 set by now retired Richard Hannon Snr.
On the way to overhauling that figure, the Aberfoyle-born handler will also overtake the 4,183 victories notched – mainly over jumps – by Martin Pipe.
Having started training in Lincolnshire in 1987, Mark has just recently registered sending out 200 winners or more, for the sixth time and his big race hauls over the years include the 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas, the Irish St Leger, three Ascot Gold Cups and five Goodwood Cups.
Attraction, Double Trigger, Mister Baileys and Shamardal are among the finest horses to have come through the hands of the man who qualified as a vet at Glasgow University.
It’s a truly amazing feat and something we can really be proud of.
Ayr holds its first jumps fixture of the 2017-2018 season on Monday – William Hill Raceday – where champion jockey Richard Johnson will be riding, closely followed on Saturday with Tennent’s Raceday.
And the weekend fixture promises to be a cracking card with seven races carrying a total of £100,000 in prize-money.
The action starts at the unusually early time of 12.25 pm with the Famous Grouse Maiden Hurdle over two miles which should attract some up and coming hurdlers.
The feature race is the £30,000 Tennent’s Cup Scottish Champion Hurdle Trial, a handicap hurdle over two miles which has all the makings of a stand out contest.
Expect to see runners from a variety of leading trainers including Dan Skelton, Nicky Richards, Sue Smith, Brian Ellison, Lucinda Russell and Fergal O’Brien.
Staying hurdlers will be out in force in the £18,000 Glenfiddich Handicap Hurdle over three miles and there will be a significant contingent competing in this too.
Two other £18,000 contests are the Magners Handicap Chase over two miles and the Guinness Handicap Chase over two and a half miles.
Meanwhile Monday 30th is William Hill Raceday, the first of 17 national hunt meetings at Ayr which culminate with the coral Scottish Grand National Festival next April.
Up and coming trainer Olly Murphy, who is based in Warwickshire, will have his first runners at the track since taking out his training licence in July.
And he has secured the services of champion jockey Richard Johnson on a few of his horses including Captiva Island in the EBF Stallions William Hill Join Plus In Shop Today Novices’ Hurdle and on newcomer Dunkereen in the concluding bumper.
Nicky Richards has entered course national hunt flat race winner Better Getalong in the opening maiden hurdle and this six year-old certainly sets the standard.
The two and a half mile Novices Limited Handicap chase could see Lochnell, a four time hurdles winner at the track, run in only his second chase while the veteran Buffalo Ballet placed twice in similar company runs for Nick Alexander with daughter Lucy riding.
The first race is due off at 1.30 pm with gates open at 11.30 am.
Finally this week congratulations go to Hamilton Park Chief Executive Vivien Currie, who scooped Best In Hospitality at the CEO of the Year Awards.
Friday 20th October
It’s hard to believe it was forty years ago that Lanark raced for the last time.
But checking the facts in the official Raceform Form Book, it was confirmed that the Clydesdale venue did indeed stage its final meeting on 18th October 1977.
John Lowe went into the history books as being the man to ride the farewell winner Bird Of Fortune who landed the concluding Abington Maiden Stakes for the Bill Elsey stable.
Some of the biggest names in racing rocked up in the heyday of Lanark, including Tommy Weston, Lester Piggott and Sandy Barclay – even Grandstand on BBC TV came live from the track one memorable Saturday afternoon for the Silver Bell fixture.
There was a wide variation of distances as well, with races catered for over 5f, 7f, 8f, 10f, 12f and up to a marathon of 20f over which the historic William The Lion Handicap was run.
Keith Dalgleish has enjoyed another terrific season and he completed a clean sweep of being crowned leading trainer at Scotland’s three Flat tracks at Musselburgh on Monday.
The Carluke handler had earlier sealed his award at Ayr and Hamilton Park and he is now focusing on more success before the end of the turf campaign.
After that he has plenty to run on the all-weather, as well as aiming at sights at the jumping scene with his small but select team of national hunt horses.
Keith’s stable apprentice, Rowan Scott, rounded off the Scottish Flat season in style by riding out his 5lb claim on Marnie James at Musselburgh.
The Hawick rider is still well worth his 3lb allowance which will surely go sometime next year.
Scottish courses have performed well in the recently announced finalists for the 2017 Racecourse Association Showcase & Awards.
Of the ten categories Musselburgh are one of five finalists for the Best Campaign for Easter Saturday, while Hamilton Park are in the final groups for Operational Excellence and Owners’ Experience.
All the best to both courses with the winners being announced on a star-studded night at Newbury on Thursday 16th November.
Friday 13th October
Nakeeta should now be settling in nicely ahead of the Melbourne Cup which is three weeks on Tuesday.
His quarantine period in Newmarket ended on Thursday and he was due to fly to his new base near Flemington racecourse over the weekend.
Iain Jardine and partner Val are heading Down Under this Thursday and Nakeeta is having expert care courtesy of two of his regular staff members. It’s a massive operation and some estimate the cost of the trip to be in the region of six figures.
The Grade 1 handicap, staged over two miles, has a first prize of A$3.6 Million (around £2m) and even tenth place is worth A$125,000.
The Dumfriesshire raider isn’t the first runner with a Scottish connection in ‘the race that stops a nation’.
Back in 1994 Stuart Morrison’s Quick Ransom, like Nakeeta an Ebor winner, came a creditable four-length fourth to Doriemus having been unplaced just twelve month earlier.
And Holy Orders, also a useful hurdler in the colours of Allan McLuckie, was 17th behind Makybe Diva in the 2003 Melbourne showpiece.
The Flat season at Ayr came to end on Wednesday when, fittingly, the last race went to Chinese Spirit who is trained just a few miles from the track by Mike Smith at Galston.
Mike was saying that he faces a dilemma regarding Sophie P who recorded her third win of the season at Musselburgh on Monday. The filly is due to go up to a new BHA mark of 104 and connections are struggling to know where to go with her as opportunities, particularly in the far north, are limited.
Chinese Spirit was ridden by P J McDonald with the win sealing his award for top jockey at Ayr in 2017.
The trainer title went to Keith Dalgleish who was also on the mark with Quite Moment partnered by Connor Beasley.
One of the most popular winners on the card was Jay Kay who gained his sixth win in the William Hill Bet Boost Handicap. Joey Haynes has been in the saddle for all those wins so little wonder he flew up for the ride before heading back south for the evening fixture at Chelmsford!
Ayr jumps campaign opens on Monday October 30th which is the first of five meetings before the turn of the year.
Friday 6th October
I’m sure I speak for all jumps fans as I wish a speedy recovery to One For Arthur who has been ruled out for the season with a tendon injury to his off foreleg.
It just goes to illustrate the highs and the lows of the National Hunt game, but as least the problem has been identified early and isn’t too serious by the sound of things.
In addition Scotland’s latest Grand National hero is still only eight years old and should be in his prime by the time the 2019 Aintree marathon comes round.
‘Arthur’ is in good hands as Lucinda Russell and her partner Peter Scudamore will make sure the recovery period takes as a long as necessary.
Kelso, where One For Arthur was due to make his return to action later this month, will be busy this afternoon for the annual Border Principals Day.
Part of the card features a Principals Race over around six furlongs with 14 lads and lasses in their respective town colours.
The main event of the day is a cracking 2m 1f handicap chase which has to be one of the best races of its kind so far this season.
Among the field is Simply Ned, the winner in 2014 & 2015, and just touched off by a neck by Theflyingportrait twelve months ago.
Theflyingportrait, who made all, is back for more and there is likely to be a frantic pace on as three-time all-the-way Cartmel winner Wisty is also in the line-up.
Add to that the presence of Aintree Grand National Festival winner Double W’s and you have a steeplechase to get really excited about.
News comes from Sandy Thomson that his stable star Seeyouatmidnight won’t be out until the New Year when he will be aimed at the 2018 Randox Health Grand National.
He’s had a minor setback that will prevent him running in the early part of the season but hopefully it will be all systems go for Aintree.
Fingers crossed we could yet see a Scottish-trained horse in action in the world’s greatest steeplechase on April 14th.