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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!

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.

 

Friday 29th September

It was great to catch up with Nigel Twiston-Davies during the recent two-day Autumn Finale meeting at Perth.

The Cotswolds trainer has been a terrific supporter of the track – and the September meeting in particular – for over 20 years.

I recall ‘Nige’ having as many as seven winners over the two days but this time he had to settle for a double on the final card with Callet Mad and Ballyandy.

The latter, third when joint-favourite for last season Supreme Hurdle at Cheltenham, made his bow over timber at the corresponding Perth meeting twelve months ago, and this time he scored at the first time asking over fences.

Nigel told me on Thursday that he always sends his best novice hurdler for the 2m 4f novices’ chase so he clearly thinks a lot of Ballyandy.

Praise indeed, as he started off stars such as subsequent Grand National hero Bindaree and classy Fundamentalist in the same race.

He added that Ballyandy, the 2016 Cheltenham Bumper winner, will be aimed at the “best novice chases” this season and is certainly one to keep an eye on.

It should be pointed out, however, that only a length back in second – and conceding 6lbs to the winner – was Fagan carrying the colours of Airdrie businessman Ronnie Bartlett.

The strapping grey, trained by Gordon Elliott, is a winning point to pointer and has already got a win over regulation fences in a 3m novices’ chase to his name.

Nakeeta’s Melbourne Cup adventure started earlier this week when he headed to Newmarket for his spell in quarantine prior to his marathon flight to Australia.

I’ll keep you updated with his progress over the next few weeks prior to the big race on 6th November.

There is a decent meeting at Musselburgh on Sunday when Ebor-winning jockey Callum Rodriguez partners Sophie P in the feature race for Ayrshire trainer Mike Smith.

The filly, who is dropped in trip and grade, is bidding to go one better as she was only pipped by half a length in the corresponding contest twelve months ago.

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

 

Friday 22nd September

Melbourne Cup-bound Nakeeta was the star turn as several hundred visitors flocked to Iain Jardine’s open day on Sunday.

The recent winner of the Betfred Ebor at York was paraded in his commemorative big race sheet as Bruce Lynn led him round the indoor school in front of an appreciative crowd.

Nakeeta has been allocated 8st 5lbs in the Grade 1 handicap over two miles which carries a cool $6.2 million in total prize money with the winner picking up $3.6 million (around £2m).

The ‘race that stops a nation’ is the showpiece of the Spring Carnival and is staged at Flemington Park racecourse on Tuesday 6th November.

Prize money goes all the way down to tenth place which is worth $125,000 and Nakeeta, presently available at 33/1, shortly sets off on the first leg of his journey which is a quarantine stay in Newmarket.

The word is that the Jardine camp are keen to secure the services of Brazilian-born jockey Joao Moreira who was runner up in last year’s Melbourne Cup on Heartbreak City.

Moreira, 32, is currently based in Hong Kong and is nicknamed ‘Magic Man’. He set a world record of riding eight winners from eight mounts on a nine-race card at Kranji in Singapore four years ago.

Jardine revealed he has around 60 horses in full training and others on view on Sunday included recent winners Sepal and Tor along with strapping grey Cool Mix, a big hope for the coming months when he goes over hurdles.

Musselburgh Racecourse has put in another five-star performance and has been awarded VisitScotland’s highest visitor experience rating for the 11th consecutive year.

VisitScotland has revised its Quality Assurance scheme with a new method of grading visitor attractions and in awarding Musselburgh a 5 Star award said: “The new system has seen some scores fall to a greater or lesser degree amongst many visitor attractions, but no such loss has in fact occurred here.”

Gaining an overall score of 89%, Musselburgh obtained a 93% rating for its pre-arrival services for visitors, 91% for Core Experience and 90% each for Staff Service and Efficiency, Cleanliness and Toilets, while Hospitality and Friendliness and Arrival was awarded 86% and 85% respectively.

Staff working across the racecourse were singled out for praise with inspectors stating they were “friendly and attentive, knowledgeable and never less than amiable and efficient.”

Hamilton Park races for the final time in 2017 tomorrow with a Family Raceday on which there is plenty of free entertainment for the kids.

The prizes will also be handed out to the track’s leading apprentice, trainer and jockey with Jimmy Long’s Thistle Bloodstock set to be crowned top owner for the third season on-the-trot.

That means the Partick Thistle colours of Glasgow-born Jimmy will again be flying proudly above the main grandstand when the new season opens on Sunday 6th May next year.

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

Friday 15th September

There are sure to be plenty of smiling faces at Iain Jardine’s annual Open Day on Sunday.

In the aftermath of the Carrutherstown trainer landing last month’s Ebor at York – with Melbourne Cup-bound Nakeeta, and a huge gamble with Elite Icon (4/1 from 20’s) at Carlisle on Wednesday – a decent turn out is expected at his Dumfriesshire yard that boasts picturesque views of the Solway Firth.

I can’t wait to interview ‘Scobie’ in front of several hundred visitors, as he parades the best of his current team of jumpers and Flat horses.

There was no happy ending to Tom Willmott’s first ride as a conditional jockey at Hexham on Thursday. Now with Lucinda Russell after starting out as an amateur with Stuart Coltherd, his career in the paid ranks resulted in an eighth-paced finish on stable stalwart Bescot Springs.

Tom is much better than that bare one-off ride and, under the wing and tuition of Peter Scudamore, he will be a great addition to Lucinda’s yard.

I was helping compère the Owners Day at Malcolm Jefferson’s Malton stable last Sunday and you couldn’t help noticing the number of Scottish owners in his yard.

Graeme Calder is one such man from north of the border and he tells me Cyrus Darius, who ran in last season’s Champion Hurdle, is going back over fences in the coming months.

I can also pass on that Double W, a winner at Aintree’s Grand National Festival, is due to start off at Kelso this autumn before heading for the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter.

And if you want a couple of Malcolm’s horses for the borders track on Wednesday keep an eye on Sweet Holly and bumper debutant Northern Soul.

By this time next week we will know all the winners from the £715,000 William Hill Ayr Gold Cup Festival including that of the big race itself on Saturday.

I’m looking looking forward to hosting Thursday’s draw in company with former Old Firm stars, Celtic’s Paul Elliott and Rangers’ Arthur Numan who helped out last year.

Entries for the first day look strong and there are some cracking horses at the five-day stage for the Listed £65,000 Doonside Cup including Michael Bell’s hat-trick seeking Fabricate, owned and bred by HM the Queen, and Frankuus, a son of the mighty Frankel.

 

8th September 2017

You just can’t ignore horses trained by Pat Shanahan at Hamilton Park.

A double at the Lanarkshire track’s penultimate meeting of the season on Tuesday meant that the Irishman has saddled ten winners at his favourite venue in 2017.

With the winners all carrying the colours of Thistle Bloodstock, it means that Partick Thistle mad Jimmy Long will be crowned leading owner at Hamilton Park for the third successive year.

In a nice touch the colours of the previous campaign’s top owner fly proudly on a flag above the main grandstand for the whole of the following season.

I also love the jockey statuette that has been introduced on the paddock lawn adorning the silks of the winning owner of the Glasgow Stakes.

The form of this year’s Listed contest looks red-hot as the first four home have all won since.

They include the Roger Varian-trained winner Defoe who is 6/1 fourth favourite with the sponsors for the William Hill St Leger at Doncaster on Saturday.

Classic success for Defoe would surely make a strong case for the BHA to upgrade the Glasgow Stakes to Group status.

Speaking of Hamilton Park it looks as if Keith Dalgleish and Joe Fanning have unassailable leads in the races to be leading trainer and jockey.

Danny Tudhope was quickly back among the winners after the short spell out of action as mentioned last week.

The Ayrshire-born pilot is lying nicely in third place in the jockeys championship with only Silvestre de Sousa and Jim Crowley above him.

Danny is creeping towards 80 winners and the win and place prize money they have earned for connections is over £1 million.

Better still for punters is that you would have made almost £100 by backing all his rides with a £1 level stake!

Our own Gordon Brown will be helping out at Malcolm Jefferson’s owners’ open day at his Malton stables tomorrow.

A list of stars from last season that national hunt fans will be looking out for include Double W’s, Waiting Patiently, Mount Mews and Cloudy Dream who was so impressive in the Future Champion Novices’ Chase at Ayr on Scottish Grand National day.

Next action in Scotland takes place at Perth on Monday when the feature race is the newly-conceived Sodexo Prestige Venues And Events Killiecrankie Handicap Chase.

With entries from top southern trainers such as Charlie Longsdon, Fergal O’Brien, Dr Richard Newland and Harry Fry it looks as if the £25,000 2m 4f contest to going to get off to a flying start.

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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