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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!

I’VE always been a big follower of Callum Bewley so it was nice to see him start 2018 off in style with a double at Musselburgh on New Year’s Day.

Last season’s northern champion conditional really shone on Uptown Funk and Sir Chauvalin who both carry the well known colours of Scottish owner Jimmy Fyffe.

Callum very much remains a young rider to keep on your side and I know Jim Goldie is a massive fan.

Good as well to see other capable Scots pilots such as Grant Cockburn, Blair Campbell, Tom Willmott, Jamie Hamilton and Callum Whillans get on the scoreboard so early in the New Year.

Ayr’s card on the 2nd was the first of a record 37 fixtures scheduled for the track this year. It can be done on the all-weather venues but there are only a few turf courses in the UK that stages anything like that number of days and one of them is Newmarket which, in infect, has two separate tracks!

Speaking to the team at Ayr this week they are certainly relishing the challenge.
Clerk of the course Graeme Anderson, a former head groundsman, knows the track like the back of his hand and was telling me the course has only had ten dry days since last summer.

Surely 2018 won’t be as soggy as 2017.

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

 

Musselburgh preview

By Gordon Brown

SILVER CONCORDE is one of the class acts on parade on Musselburgh New Year’s Day.

The winner of the 2014 Champion Bumper at Cheltenham when he was Dermot Weld, he faces six rivals in the Totepool Hogmaneigh Handicap Hurdle.
He changed hands for 33,000 euros at the sales last autumn and has won both starts at the East Lothian venue since joining Keith Dalgleish.

His current owner is Richard Gilbert of Straightline Construction who said: “Keith has done a fantastic job with him as he hasn’t had him too long long. We were basically trying to get his confidence back as he had probably gone a bit sour.

“This is a much better race for him than the two he won but we know he handles the track well. It’s possible we may think about handicaps at Cheltenham or Aintree later on.”

One of Silver Concorde’s opponents is Jim Goldie’s Sir Chauvelin who has enjoyed an excellent year on the Flat and returns to the scene of his two wins over hurdles.

The meeting also features the 149th renewal of the historic New Year Sprint for professional athletes with a £4,000 first prize up for grabs.

 

 

 

Friday 29th December

Kelso is the latest Scottish course to announce massive prize money increases for next year.

In 2018 over £1.2m will be up for grabs, a jump of some 26 per cent and the average value of a race at the borders venue now sits proudly at £12,200.

It promises to be quite a year at Kelso as it will also stage its most valuable ever card. £166,000 will be on offer on April 7 when the track will play host to ITV Racing’s main coverage.

All good news especially coming off the back of the course losing its last two meetings of 2017 due to the weather.

A wee bird tells me that contingency plans were looked at to re-run Friday’s abandoned fixture today (Sunday) but there were too many stumbling blocks in the way.

Kelso’s first action of the New Year is set for January 14 and the track are anticipating releasing news of significant investment in the facilities which could start in the summer.

There’s no better way to blow away the Hogmanay cobwebs than a visit to Musselburgh on New Year’s Day.

Looking at the entries some of the top trainers could be represented including Paul Nicholls, Kim Bailey and Tom George.

The first race of 2018 in Scotland is a juvenile hurdle and looks a cracker.

It was won last year by the useful Project Bluebook whose trainer John Quinn this time saddles Je Suis Charlie, a horse of whom the Malton trainer rates highly.

I’ll be keeping an eye on Keith Dalgleish to see which of his three entries – Rita’s Man, Take The High Road and Uptown Funk – that he runs.

Musselburgh will be the scene of Keith first runners of 2018 and he will be keen to hit the blocks running after sending out over 100 winners last year.

Speaking of running the meeting also features the 149th renewal of the historic New Year Sprint for professional athletes. It should be quite a day.

And racing keeps going north of the border with a decent meeting at Ayr on Tuesday before returning to Musselburgh on Wednesday.

 

Sunday 24th December

We hear there are some exciting entries set for Kelso next Friday when the Borders venues stages the final action of the year in Scotland.

The feature race is the £12,000 Children’s Immunology Novices’ Chase and the word is highly-regarded Jonniesofa expected to be in the line-up for the 2m 6f contest.

Jonniesofa is a Grade 2 winning hurdler for Rose Dobbin and he emerged from a 19-month absence to score at Carlisle on his bow over fences in October.

Nick Alexander could be the trainer to follow as he was telling me the other day he hopes to saddle a few runners including course specialist Landecker in the concluding amateur riders’ hurdle. Landecker has four career wins to his name and they were all achieved at Kelso.

As the racing north of the border comes to an end for 2017, it isn’t long until we start 2018 with a real swing at Musselburgh on New Year’s Day, followed by Ayr on the 2nd and then back at Musselburgh on the 3rd.

The opening meeting at Musselburgh features the historic New Year Sprint for professional athletes in addition to some fabulous national hunt racing including the £40,000 Hogmaneigh Hurdle.

And it should be great stuff at Ayr as well with the seven-race card including the valuable Racing UK Winter Season Ticket Handicap Hurdle over 2m 5f.

We praised the BHA last week for staging an extra meeting at Musselburgh and the same body helped trigger an additional card at short notice at Ayr on Friday.

In light of all the cold weather cancellations it was a welcome outlet for trainers in the north to give their horses a much needed outing to stretch their legs.

Scottish trainers certainly grabbed the opportunity with both hands as five of the seven races went to tartan handlers Sandy Thomson, Ian Duncan, Mike Smith and James Ewart who landed a quick-fire double in the last two races.

Huge plaudits must go to Perth for today’s (Sunday) revelation of a massive prize money injection in 2018.

A 35% increase from last year will see the 15 meetings worth a staggering £1.25m, meaning the Scone venue has crashed through the million pound barrier for the first time in its long and proud history.

As a result average prize money at Britain’s most northerly racecourse will increase to £11,500 from £8,500.

 

Friday 15th December

Well done to the BHA for swiftly triggering an additional fixture at Musselburgh on Monday, after the recent spate of abandonments in the north and Scotland in particular.

The loss of Kelso’s Scottish Borders National card last Sunday was quickly followed by the cancellation of meetings at Musselburgh on Monday and Ayr on Tuesday due to the cold snap.

No doubt the seven-race programme will be well-supported with so many horses being denied an outing and plenty of trainers have rightly applauded the initiative.

It was a shame to lose Kelso as the Borders National fixture is one of the highlights of the season so hopefully the big race itself can be salvaged at some point.

And fair play to clerk of the course Graeme Anderson and his team at Ayr for pulling out all the stops only to be beaten by two nights of hard frost in a row. At considerable cost, the track had been completely covered in fleece-like material since last Thursday but when temperatures dip to -6c or -7c there is sometimes nothing more you can do.

With our success in big races this year – the Grand National and the Ebor – I was wondering how long it might be until a Scottish-born trainer lands the biggest prize of all – the Derby.

Mark Johnston’s ill-fated Permian was fourth favourite for this year’s Epsom Classic only to finish 10th and I see Aberfoyle-born Mark and Edinburgh-born Hugo Palmer have a few entries for next year’s Derby.

Hugo, who was brought up in deepest Berwickshire, holds the strongest hand at the moment with The Revenant who is currently as short as 33/1 in some ante-post lists.

The Dubawi colt looked a nice prospect in his two races this season so here’s hoping he trains on to be a top-notch three-year-old in 2018.

The shortlist for the Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards was announced recently and, fingers crossed, there will be good news for our part of the country when the winners are announced in London in February.

In the various categories all the best goes to Kim Walker (Nick Alexander), Jamie Turnbull (Lucinda Russell), Marjorie Renwick (Harriet Graham), Jamie Duff (Lucinda Russell) and Adam Nish (Musselburgh Racecourse).

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

 

Friday 8th December 2017

All roads lead to Kelso on Sunday for the Scottish Borders National which is one of the big days of the season at the ‘friendly course’.

The meeting is subject to a precautionary inspection planned for 7.30am due to a cold forecast.

It’s also the final pre-Festive fixture at the track and general manager Jonathan Garratt is encouraging racegoers to turn up in their Christmas jumpers.

And there is an incentive as well, because everyone wearing an outrageous garment will be rewarded with a free racecard and the track will donate a further £1 to charity for each jumper on parade.

Marsha made six million guineas at the sales on Tuesday – smashing the previous European auction record – and she has a strong Scottish connection having used the Land O’Burns Stakes at Ayr in 2016 as her springboard to success.

The four-year-old filly, who was trained by Sir Mark Prescott, has since gone on to taste Group 1 glory twice and is now set to be covered by stellar stallion Galileo.

I can’t wait to see their offspring on a racecourse with that sort of pedigree.

Quiet Refection, twice a winner in Scotland for Karl Burke, also raised a few eyebrows after she made 2,100,000gns at the same December Mares Sale.

Like Marsha she is a duel Group 1 winner and she started her career on a winning note at Hamilton Park in 2015. Later that season she landed the Listed Harry Rosebery Stakes at Ayr.

A busy mid-winter spell continues after Kelso with Musselburgh and Ayr racing on Monday and Tuesday respectively.

Fingers crossed all three fixtures will survive the recent cold snap.

The card at Musselburgh is the final action of 2017 at the East Lothian venue and the feature race is a £20,000 juvenile hurdle.

Last year it was won by the Queen’s Forth Bridge and the two entries that stand out are hurdling newcomers Rita’s Man, trained by Keith Dalgleish, and John Quinn’s Je Suis Charlie as both were fairly decent on the Flat.

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

 

Friday 1st December

It’s good to see Lucy Alexander back in action at Carlisle tomorrow as she returns from a nasty spill at Hexham last month.

Lucy got badly trampled on in an incident involving Sky Full Of Stars on 10th November and she has a busy comeback afternoon with four booked rides.

They are all trained by her father Nick and first up is old favourite Jet Master in the Northern Lights Two Mile Hurdle Series Final.

Well done to Iain Jardine for scooping the Flat Trainer award at Friday’s Northern Racing Magic Moments dinner in Newcastle.

Carrurtherstown-based Iain landed the award for Nakeeta winning the Ebor – the richest handicap on the level in the UK – at York in August and he received a tremendous reception as he came onto the stage to be presented with a magnificent horse bronze.

Earlier on the One For Arthur team, Lucinda Russell, Derek Fox and Deborah Thomson and Belinda McClung (Two Golf Widows, were honoured with the Special Achievement Award for winning the Grand National on that never-to-be-forgotten afternoon at Aintree in April.

What a year for racing in Scotland with the most valuable handicaps over jumps and on the Flat going to Scottish trainers.

Mention of an award to One For Arthur brings back memories of a special accolade handed out to Auroras Encore, the National hero of 2013 co-owned by Jim Beaumont.

Wishes of a speedy recovery go out to Edinburgh-based Jim who has been undergoing hip replacement surgery and he will no doubt be looking forward to his colours being carried by Harry The Viking in Sunday’s Scottish Borders National at Kelso.

The 12-year-old was given a fine ride by Rachael McDonald when making all twelve months ago and trainer Sandy Thomson has hinted that this may be the veterans’ final race.

In his younger days ‘Harry’ was owned by Sir Alex Ferguson and he has already added to his Borders National success by scrambling home under Rachael at Carlisle last month.

 

Friday 24th November

The awards season is upon us and there is plenty of tartan cheer around this year.

Connections of Grand National hero One For Arthur have been nominated several times as have the Iain Jardine team for their globetrotting Ebor winner Nakeeta.

We also hear Sepal, owned by Ayrshire’s Gordon Thom, is another on the short list for the big Racehorse Owners’ Association bash next month.

Our very own Gordon Brown is co-hosting the star-studded ‘Magic Moments’ dinner in Newcastle on Friday and we can reveal that some of the above Scots plus Jamie Gormley, Rachael McDonald, Callum Bewley, Sandy Thomson and owner William Johnstone have been nominated.

Good luck to them and we’ll let you know how they fared next week.

Sandy Thomson is on the list too due to the exploits of stable star Seeyouatmidnight who is being targeted at the 2018 Grand National.

The pride of Greenlaw is currently sidelined with a minor suspensory problem, but is expected to be back in action shortly after the turn of the year.

Speaking to Sandy recently, he was saying ‘Midnight’ could have his return to action in something like the Morebattle Hurdle at Kelso in February as he begins his build up to the world’s greatest steeplechase at Aintree on April 14th.

Wouldn’t it be great to keep the prize in Scotland after the wonderful success of One For Arthur.

Tom Willmott was mud splattered but happy as he celebrated his first victory in a chase against professionals at Hexham on Lowanbehold on Wednesday.

The 17-year-old from Selkirk was an amateur with Stuart Coltherd before joining Lucinda Russell as a conditional pilot.

He had his first win in a hurdle at Ayr earlier this autumn and he already has a fair bit of experience from riding in point to points and hunter chases.

We recently highlighted Keith Dalgleish reaching a hundred winners for the first time and now his former boss Mark Johnston is on the verge of a new personal best for a calendar year.

The Aberfoyle-born trainer is enjoying the 24th consecutive year with a three figure total and he is now about to beat his previous highest domestic score of 216 which he achieved in both 2009 and 2013.

A remarkable achievement for a man who is proud of his Scottish roots and is a non-executive director at Hamilton Park.

Racing at Ayr on Monday has been abandoned, but will go ahead at Musselburgh on Thursday.

There are decent entries for Musselburgh, so fingers crossed the forecast is kind with all wet and cold weather we’ve been having.

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

 

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.

 

 

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!

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