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For all of the latest news from the Scottish tracks, and tips for forthcoming racedays from our own Gordon Brown, keep your eyes below for our weekly blog!


IT was great to catch up with Scotland and British Lions Rugby legend Gavin Hastings at Hamilton Park on Thursday night.

Gavin is chairman of the Saints & Sinners Club Of Scotland and he was officiating at a famous and glamorous meeting that dates back to 1965.

Each year the Club raises and donates £130,000 to small Scottish charities, often making the critical difference to their funding and continued viability.

From the £2 received for each carnation worn on the night (red for a sinner and white for a saint) there were various fund raisers on the evening and the star silent auction lot was a FC Barcelona shirt hand signed by Lionel Messi.

On the track there was a new 5f course record set by Dapper Man as he scorched home to stop the clock at 57.2 sec, some .57sec faster than the previous best set by three-year-old East Street Revue two years ago.

It was also .75 quicker than the juvenile record which was registered by Rose Blossom in 2009.

After Dapper Man’s six-length demolition job, winning jockey. Ben Curtis admitted to me afterwards that he had never gone as quick before!

We’ve four days racing in Scotland this week starting back at Hamilton Park for an afternoon card for Almada Raceday on Tuesday. The most valuable race on the fixture is the £30,000 Almada Mile Handicap (for the Watson Memorial Trophy) for horse rated 81-100 so a decent renewal is assured as I see Mark Johnston has four entries.

On Wednesday there is a Racehorse Owners Association Ownership Day at Musselburgh when a seven-race card gets underway at 2pm.

And Thursday sees Perth back in action with a seven race affair featuring four hurdles and three chases with the main event the £14,600 Racing For Everyone Racingwithpride Handicap Chase over three miles.

The week ends with a Sunday card at Ayr where the feature race is the £14,000 Monday July 15 Is Family Day Handicap over a mile.



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



Sunday 23rd June

Scottish Racing has joined forces with national alcohol education charity, Drinkaware, and the Racecourse Association, with plans to stage walking football matches at all racecourses across Scotland, to improve, maintain and promote the physical, mental and social wellbeing of older adults through low-impact sport.

Through these tournaments, Drinkaware will provide vital information to participants on their health and alcohol consumption, allowing them to make more informed choices about their drinking habits and subsequently try to improve them. Drinkaware will use its partnership with The Scottish Football Association and Walking Football Scotland to facilitate the walking football element of this initiative with Scottish Racing with the goal of educating participants on the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption and the benefits of regular exercise.

A pilot tournament was held at Ayr racecourse last week which saw 50 participants from Scottish Racing, Ayr Racecourse, the Racecourse Association, William Hill, Alzheimer Scotland and Walking Football Scotland, with a view to hold more tournaments across all Scotland’s racecourses.  Those involved also received a fascinating behind-the-scenes tour of Ayr Racecourse, which would not usually be accessible to those attending a race meeting.

Delly Innes, manager of Scottish Racing, said: “Drinkaware’s mission of promoting healthier lifestyles through a reduction in alcohol consumption, dovetails with that of our existing partners, Alzheimer Scotland, with whom we already work to promote physical activity and reduce social isolation.  By informing more people about responsible drinking, we can also send a message that this can assist in the prevention of mental and physical illness in later life.  Walking football is the fastest growing sport amongst men over the age of 45 with clear health benefits to anyone who may have concerns over their relationship with alcohol, or who may be living with dementia.”

“The health benefits of both responsible, informed drinking and increased participation in sport are obvious, and we are delighted to offer our facilities and manpower to promote that message further.”

Drinkaware Chief Executive, Elaine Hindal, said: “Working in partnership with Scottish Racing is a fantastic new opportunity, which allows us to work directly with communities across Scotland to help even more people make better choices about their drinking.

“Walking football is an increasingly popular and fun way for people to improve their health and wellbeing and is very much in line with our commitment to finding new and innovative ways of reducing the harms caused by alcohol.”

Paul Swain, the Racecourse Association’s Brand & Experience Manager, added “We are delighted that the Scottish racecourses via Scottish Racing have offered their facilities to stage walking football matches. Walking Football is a great sport which enables everyone to play, promotes social inclusion and to take some exercise whilst also having a huge amount of fun.”

The RCA is constantly looking for new ways to help racecourses activate our valued partnership with Drinkaware. This brilliant initiative should help many more people get onto a racecourse and be part of a team environment whilst receiving some valuable health and wellbeing advice.”

If you would like further information, as to when a walking football event will be held at your nearest racecourse, please contact, Scottish Racing on 07908 716564 or email: info@scottishracing.co.uk.

Racing this week takes place at Hamilton Park on Thursday 27th, and don’t forget to check out our Twitter feed (@ScottishRacing) and www.scottishracing.co.uk for all the latest news.


Sunday 16th June

Ayr stages its traditional two-day June meeting on Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd.

Tennent’s Racenight kicks off the action on Friday with a seven-race card getting under way at 5.55pm with the Isle of Jura Handicap for amateur riders over 1m 2f.

The feature races are the Whyte & Mackay Handicap over 1m 2f at 7.40pm and the Tennent’s Lager Handicap over 7f at 8.10pm.

There is more than £160,000 in prize-money up for grabs on Saturday with the main contest, the £50,000 British Stallion Studs EBF Land O’Burns Fillies’ Stakes, over five furlongs which is the fastest race of the year at the track, normally run in less than a minute.

This race has been won in the past by such high-class fillies as Airwave (2004), Look Busy (2008) and Marsha (2016). Last year the winner was the Kevin Ryan trained Elnadim Star.

And it is Look Busy who currently holds the 5f track record, after she scorched home to stop the clock at 55.68 eleven years ago.

The main supporting races are the £40,000 Western House Hotel Handicap for the Winton Cup and the £30,000 Wellington Bar Paisley Handicap over a mile for the Johnstone Rose Bowl.

The first of Saturday’s seven races is due off at 2pm with the final racing action at 5.40pm.

There is also a meeting at Hamilton Park on Wednesday afternoon, just a week after a stunning debut performance by Better The Devil at the Lanarkshire track for Lambourn trainer Archie Watson.

Archie was making his first personal appearance at Hamilton and he told me he was very impressed with everything from the prize money to the racing surface itself.

He also added that Better The Devil is set for a very bright future and said to look out for his other winner Inspired Thought, who is set for a crack at Group company next after her win under a big weight in one of the feature races.

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


Sunday 9th June

Leading jockey Nico De Boinville was a big winner at the 2019 Coral Scottish Grand National Festival at Ayr Racecourse when he successfully bid for a stunning MG Midget.


And Ayrshire Cancer Support’s #Home4Cancer fundraising drive to create a new centre for people affected by cancer is £10,000 richer thanks to Nico’s determination to own the vintage vehicle.


Ayrshire Cancer Support is the charity partner for Ayr Racecourse and Western House Hotel and the MG Midget was on display at Scotland’s richest race meeting to encourage bidders to dig deep and boost the charity’s funds.


Nico spotted the classic 1973 car on the Friday of the meeting and immediately fell in love it and lodged his bid.


The 29-year-old jockey has won a host of big races including the 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup on Coneygree and is the regular rider of champion chaser Altior.


Nico said : “I saw the MG Midget parked near the Weighing Room at Ayr when I arrived for the Coral Scottish Grand National meeting and when I found out that is was up for auction, I had to make a bid. I had an agonising wait of a few weeks until I was told my bid had secured it. I am delighted to have it at home now and look forward to driving it.”


Ayrshire Cancer Support CEO Sandra McCall said : “Just a week after launching our fundraising drive to create a new centre for people affected by cancer in South Ayrshire, a very generous donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, handed us the keys for this stunning red classic 1973 MG Midget.


“We were astounded by such generosity and the donor obviously cares a great deal about helping make sure we can provide a more homely support centre in Ayr to replace our existing one. I would like to thank this supporter very much for donating the car and thank Nico very much for falling in love with it !”

Ayr Racecourse Managing Director David Brown added : “We are delighted to have played a part in Ayrshire Cancer Support raising so much money towards their new cancer centre. We are proud to support this charity and I hope Nico enjoys driving in his MG Midget.


“We hoped there would be bids for this fabulous car when it was displayed at the racecourse and it is great that our link with the charity helped in this way.”


Perth Racecourse has renamed the Gold Cup, its single richest race, The Sam Morshead Perth Gold Cup Handicap Steeple Chase in honour of the man who revolutionised racing at the Scone track.


Perth will celebrate two decades of the Gold Cup race Sunday, with a season-high £40,000 prize pot, and renaming of the big race which has been done with the blessing of Sam Morshead’s family.


Charlie Morshead (Sam’s eldest son) and family will be in attendance as guests of Perth Racecourse and to present the Perth Gold Cup.


UK horse racing mourned the passing of Morshead in October of last year. A successful jump jockey of 400 winners who arrived at Perth as Clerk of the Course in 1998, he became General Manager just five years later, a role that he held for 25 years and during which he spearheaded the creation of Perth’s Gold Cup meeting in 2000.


Hazel Peplinski, Perth Racecourse Chief Executive and Sam’s successor said: “Sam is so affectionately remembered by everyone at Perth, in Scottish Racing and indeed British Racing. I know much of his family well and we have had some fun conversations planning an appropriate tribute that does full justice to Sam’s impact on Scottish Racing which shouldn’t be underestimated.


“When Sam’s family chose to name a race after him there was really only one that would fit that purpose which is the Perth Gold Cup. Twenty years ago, Sam firstly secured the Sunday fixture and then created a quality race programme with the Perth Gold Cup, a Class 2 three-mile Chase at its centre – the whole concept was his baby. Along with the Perth Festival, Sam had the knack of blending a quality event without getting too serious about it – it was all about having plenty of craic. Sam would push the boundaries and helped to establish Perth as friendly, innovative venue which should be on all racing fans’ bucket list. Many of the current team here are the same people and we ensure the fun-loving ethos that Sam established is never lost.”


Speaking on behalf of the family, Charlie Morshead – Sam’s eldest son – said: “We are so pleased that Dad’s contribution to Perth Racecourse and to Scottish and UK racing will be remembered in such a fitting way.


“The Perth Gold Cup was very special to Dad and he was rightly proud of the way it grew in tandem with the rapid development of the racecourse under his management, innovation and drive. We’re very grateful to the current team at Perth for this fantastic gesture; it will be an emotional occasion for all of our family but most of all it will be a day of great pride and one we hope will be enjoyed by a typically energetic and large crowd of Perth racegoers as well.”


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

Sunday 2nd June

Hamilton Park form was given an almighty boost on Friday when 2017 Glasgow Stakes hero Defoe stormed to victory in the Group 1 Coronation Cup.

His success at the Lanarkshire venue, when sent of 5-4 favourite, was under Harry Bentley and it was Andrea Atzeni who did the steering on the 11-1 chance at Epsom.

The strength in depth of that Glasgow Stakes renewal is pretty impressive as the runner-up Frankuus has since scored in Group 3 company, the third, Call To Mind, is a Listed and Grade 2 winner while fourth home Euro Nightmare has also won a Listed contest.

And, to complete a clean sweep, the fifth Twin Star has won a handicap with the sixth and last horse, Fierce Impact, winning two handicaps since moving to Australia!

There is over £105,000 up for grabs at Perth on Sunday when the late general manager Sam Morshead is remembered with his name being added to the title of the Perth Gold Cup, a £40,000 handicap chase staged over three miles.

First staged in 2000, the big race remains the richest event run at the Scone track and it is a strong supporting card with the £20,000 Heineken UK Handicap Chase just one another highlight on the seven-race afternoon.

It was great see Rab Havlin riding in the Investec Oaks even though he had no luck on 11-4 favourite Mehdaayih who finished seventh behind the winner and stable companion Anapurna.

The 45-year-old Saltcoats-born jockey is a valued and integral member of John Gosden’s powerful Newmarket stable and the elusive first Group 1 of his career is surely not far away.


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


Sunday 26th May

Well done to Nicola Currie for becoming tenth on the list of winning most women Flat jockeys of all time in Britain after scoring on Seraphinite at Kempton last week.

The Isle of Arran-born rider, crowned all-weather champion apprentice last month after another successful winter season, reached the prestigious top ten with the 127th victory of her career on a filly who was sent off at 33-1.

Lambourn trainers Jamie Osborne and Richard Hughes have supplied her with the most winners while Phil McEntee has also chipped in in plenty of occasions.

Nicola rode out her claim last year and has set her sights on beating Josephine Gordon’s record women’s score of 106 in a calendar year. She reached the 26 mark on Seraphinite as she bids to build on her tremendous 2018 total of 81.

Hayley Turner leads the table on 818 which sees her well clear of retired duo Cathy Gannon and Alex Greaves on 344 and 287 respectively.

Ayr was getting plenty of plaudits after the west of Scotland venue opened its Flat campaign on Wednesday.

Most of the jockeys I spoke to were very pleased with the condition of the track following the extensive drainage work that had been undertaken during the winter.

With the grass growth now in full swing, the course appeared in splendid shape as racing takes place again at Ayr on Tuesday evening, so full marks to clerk Graeme Anderson and his hard-working groundstaff team.

It’s Ladies’ Day at Kelso on Sunday as the Borders venue stages its last meeting of the spring

A big crowd is assured and the action on the track looks pretty decent with the valuable hunters’ chase attracting a quality field of 13.

The class horse of the race is Mr Mercurial, fresh from impressive back-to-back wins at Perth for his owner, trainer, rider Will Ramsay.

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


Sunday 19th May

Ayr stages its first Flat meeting of 2019 on Wednesday with the valuable Tennent’s Raceday also featuring the first Listed race of the season.

The £50,000 Tennent’s Lager British Stallion Studs EBF Rothesay Stakes over 1m 2f was first introduced in 2016 and previous winners include Roger Varian’s Nezwaahwho won in 2017 before going on to win the Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh later that year.

The five year-old filly Shenanigans represents the Varian stable in this year’s renewal with stable jockey Andrea Atzeni set to ride. Other entries include Richard Fahey’s ExhortMagnolia Springs from the Eve Johnson Houghton yard and Archie Watson’s Vivianite.

There are two Irish horses entered in the race – Coeur d’Amour, trained by Madeleine Tylicki and Jet Streaming from the Samuel Farrell stable.

The main supporting race is the Magners Handicap over five furlongs where Ruth Carr’s Mark’s Choice, winner of a similar contest at Ripon last month, lines up with James Sullivan riding.

The Keith Dalgleish stable has been in fine form and Universal Gleam, the mount of Joe Fanning, could continue that run in the Orchard Pig Handicap over a mile.

Nice to see the Keith Dalgleish yard firing on all cylinders with winners at York in a week that started with a treble at Musselburgh on Monday.

The middle leg, supplied by Mi Capricho, was a rare event in Scotland as the Carluke raider forced a dead-heat with fellow Scottish runner Robben Rainbow.

Due to the level of technology available these days, we don’t get too many finishes where an outright winner can’t be declared and it took BHA judge Fraser Perratt nearly eleven minutes before he announced his verdict.

Even the jockeys involved in the 7f thriller, Sean Davis and Jason Hart, weren’t sure so when the result was called everyone was pretty happy.

And just to clarify if you back a horse that ends up in a dead-heat your stake gets halved no matter what price your selection is.

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


Sunday 12th May

Harry Skelton made sure there was plenty of publicity surrounding Kelso on Wednesday when he completed a full house of riding a winner at every British jumps course at the Borders venue.

The Midlands-based pilot reached his milestone on 4-9 jolly Floki, trained by his brother Dan, in the opening race and he went on to complete a quick-fire double on Emerald Chieftan just over an hour later.

Not many of his weighing-room colleagues have completed a full house, so Harry is a member of a relatively exclusive club.

When interviewed on Racing TV, he paid tribute to Dan for supplying so many of his winners and the fact that last season he was only the second jumps handler after Martin Pipe to saddle a double century in a single campaign.

Rebecca Menzies was in bubbly form after the win of Emerald Chieftan and she was proudly showing off the hefty bag of massive Berwickshire carrots presented by Kelso to every winning trainer!

Speaking to Ewan Whillans at Ayr on Tuesday revealed that he is hoping to take over the reins from his Hawick trainer father Alistair in the near future.

The ex-jump jockey has completed all the qualifications required for a trainer and he has been assisting Alistair for several years now.

Ewan said nothing much will change except the name on the licence for a well-appointed yard that enjoys plenty of success on the Flat and over jumps.

Plenty of racing in Scotland this week starting off at Musselburgh on Monday 13th and Perth on Wednesday evening and Thursday afternoon, when Ladies’ Day is a sell-out.

Hamilton Park stages an evening card on Friday for Palmaris Services Racenight featuring Ministry Of Sound Throwback 90’s Dance.

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

Sunday 5th May

Great to see Hamilton Park off and running for 2019 with their Family Raceday today with the card including the Hamilton Park Racecourse New Hotel Tangerine Trees Conditions Stakes and the Hampton By Hilton Opening This Summer Buttonhook Handicap.

Both races have been sponsored in the name of the new 118-bedroom hotel which is set to open at Hamilton Park later this summer. The Hampton by Hilton Hamilton Park Hotel will mark yet another significant milestone in the growth of Hamilton Park as a racing venue and will welcome guests for raceday and non-raceday events, as well as visitors to the local area.

The modern, en-suite rooms will also be used to accommodate Racing Staff who have travelled extended distances to bring runners to the course.

Off the track, the fun-filled Family Raceday promises a huge selection of free children’s activities to entertain the little ones and big kids alike. Segways, virtual reality gaming and the inflatable climbing wall make their racecourse debut, joining the ever-popular bungee trampolines, face painting and human table football – with all activities included in the ticket price!

Sulekha Varma, racing manager at Hamilton Park, said: “It is fantastic to be able to maintain our record-breaking commitment to prize money of £1.33 million this summer. The quality and quantity of entries for our opening fixture is superb and we are very much looking forward to opening our gates for an exciting new season.

“We work hard to make sure we reward those connected with horses at all levels of the sport and this is reflected both in our excellent prize money and award-winning Owners’ Experience. I am also pleased that, later this summer, we will be able to provide comfortable and modern accommodation for Racing Staff who have travelled long distances with the opening of the Hampton by Hilton Hamilton Park Hotel.”

Elsewhere, the racecourse has also continued to invest in their award-winning facilities including resurfacing the Pre-Parade Ring and improving the Owners & Trainers and public facilities to extend the “Lovely Loos” concept. Plus, for the hungry racegoers there’s a brand-new delicious pizza offering with take-away options for the end of the evening.

Ayr stages a seven race jumps card on Tuesday which carries £60,000 in prize-money and features some competitive racing.

The highlight of the afternoon is the Join Racing TV Now Handicap Chase, a Class 3 contest over 2m 4f with £17,800 in the prize fund.

One of the furthest travelled runners of the day runs in this with Peter Bowen sending Dr Robin on the 800-mile round trip form his Pembrokeshire stables. This three-time chase winner takes on several capable rivals including course and distance winner Blakerigg, trained by Nicky Richards, fresh from his win with Takingrisks in the Coral Scottish Grand National, and due to be ridden by Brian Hughes.

The main supporting race is the Weddings At Western House Hotel Beginners’ Chase over 3m and Carluke-based trainer Keith Dalgleish gives Alfie’s Choice his first run over the bigger obstacles in this, with the seven year-old having won his last outing over hurdles at Hexham back in October. Jim Goldie’s Get Out The Gate is another interesting runner here.

The final race on the card is the Celebrate At The Western House Hotel Intermediate Open National Hunt Flat Race over two miles where Ruth Jefferson, who has a good record in this type of race, introduces Cyrus Keep with Henry Brooke taking the mount.

The retirement of Ruby Walsh at Punchestown took everyone by surprise and he has gone down as one of the greatest big race jump jockeys of all time.

His record in Scotland wasn’t too bad either and his rides at Ayr (24 wins from 77 mounts) showed a £60.85 profit to a £1 level stake and included a 2002 Scottish Grand National aboard Take Control.

At Kelso he was 2/7, at Perth 6/31, while his only ride at Musselburgh was a loser!

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


Sunday 28th April

A couple of milestones were reached as this week’s enjoyable Perth festival which celebrated its 30th year in the picturesque grounds of Scone Palace Park.

On the opening day Gordon Elliott saw his course prize money burst through the £1m barrier in a relationship that takes him back to his first-ever winner in the shape of Arresting in 2006.

The Irishman has since gone on to scoop the biggest races in the jump calendar including the Cheltenham Gold Cup and three Grand Nationals.

No-one loves Perth more than Gordon and racecourse Chief Executive Hazel Peplinski presented him with a framed picture montage to acknowledge his remarkable achievement.

Richard Johnson, the man on board many of Elliott’s Perth victories, is also pretty potent at Britain’s most northerly venue and it is great to see him crowned champion jockey for the fourth successive time.

It is also the third time in a championship season that Richard has registered more wins at Perth than any other course in Britain.

There were two special guests at Perth in the shape of Elaine and Dave Brooks who were completing a full house of Britain’s 61 racecourses.

They are also behind the website hoofingit.com which posts regular blogs on horseracing topics and were planning writing very favourable comments about their visit which included lunch in the Galileo restaurant.


Sunday 21st April

All roads lead to Perth on Wednesday for the first of the three-day festival which was initially staged in 1989.

With record prize money of £304,000 on offer, the Scone track has rightly been rewarded with massive entries featuring horses trained by the biggest National Hunt names around in Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales.

The form from the first race of last year looks pretty hot as the winner, Blue Flight, ran a cracker to finish fourth in Saturday’s Scottish Grand National.

Keep an eye also on Richard Hobson’s Valadom in Wednesday’s Phil Nelson Handicap Chase as the Gloucestershire trainer fancies following up his win twelve months ago with Allysson Monterg.

And, as he continues his quest to saddle 200 winners, I will be interested in anything that Jumps training sensation Dan Skelton saddles as he told me at Ayr that he is desperate to reach his maiden double century.

A record number of viewers tuned into the ITV coverage of the Coral Scottish Grand National on Saturday with more than 1.2 million watching the closing stages of the race.

The ITV Racing average viewing figure for Saturday was up 10% from 609,000 in 2018 to 673,000 this year while the three-minute peak was up 17% from 1.01 million to 1.18 million.

The 1.213 million recorded towards the end of the show is believed to be the biggest figure on a Saturday excluding the Grand National, Derby and Saturday of Royal Ascot.

ITV Racing’s Ed Chamberlin, who presented the action from Ayr, said: “It was great to bring viewers both great Jumps and Flat racing on Saturday. I love going up to Ayr, we had a brilliant day and I couldn’t be happier that, following on from such great stories and viewing figures at Cheltenham and Aintree, so many people watched the Coral Scottish Grand National, one of the big races in our Jumps calendar.”

David Brown, Managing Director of Ayr Racecourse said: “These figures just underline the huge appeal of the Coral Scottish Grand National and the supporting card.

“When you consider that the race is also the fourth biggest in the UK in terms of betting turnover it shows the wide appeal of this great race.”

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


Monday 15th April 

Nicky Richards struck a blow for the north in the Coral Scottish Grand National last weekend, when Takingrisks, given a super cool ride from Sean Quinlan, won the £122,500 first prize in front of a sell-out crowd of 18,500 enjoyed the action.

The Penrith based trainer is one of the most loyal supporters of Ayr during the jumps season and he followed his father Gordon, who trained Scottish National winners Playlord (1969) and Four Trix (1990), into the history books.

He said afterwards: “It was great for racing in the north.  Takingrisks is owned by Frank Bird who is one of the biggest poultry farmers in the country and is based near our yard. He is a great owner and just lets me get on.

Connor Brace, a 17 year-old conditional jockey was another rider claiming his biggest ever success when steering Verdan Blue to victory in the CPMS Scottish Champion Hurdle for trainer Nicky Henderson.

This was a tremendous performance as he pulled seven lengths clear of Dino Velvet and a trip to the Punchestown Festival could be on the cards next.

There was a double on the day for trainer Dan Skelton and his jockey brother Harry when they teamed up to win the first two races on the card – the Scotty Brand Handicap Chase, Listed race, with Azzuri and the J & D Pierce Novices’ Champion Handicap Chase with Molly The Dolly.

The Jordan Electrics Future Champion Chase went to Paul Nicholls and jockey Harry Cobden with Secret Investor.

Musselburgh stages a tremendous card on Easter Saturday when the highlights are the Queen’s Cup for stayers and the Scottish Sprint Cup for speedsters.

The Queens Cup, staged over 1m 6f is worth £100,000, is joined by for the first time by the Sprint Cup which used to be run on a mid-summer date in June.

Last year’s Queens Cup winner Brandon Castle went on to win three times over hurdles for Bryony Frost and ran in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, runner-up Time To Study was second in Group 3 company, while third placed Euchen Glen landed the prestigious John Smith’s Cup at York.

Musselburgh General Manager Bill Farnsworth said: “It will be great to see a quality meeting containing opportunities for the stayers and the sprinters. Our aim for the Queen’s Cup is help horses start their campaigns before tackling races such as the Chester Cup and Northumberland Plate.”

It wasn’t to be for the three Scottish challengers in last week’s Grand National although One For Arthur ran out of his skin to finish an honourable sixth behind Tiger Roll.

Captain Redbeard raced prominently on the inside for a long way before fading into 16th place, while Lake View Lad, having been slowly away, struggled in the quickish conditions and was behind when pulled up shortly after being hampered by a faller four out.

Speaking to connections in the aftermath, Lucinda Russell was really proud of “Arthur” who will be prepared for another crack at Aintree next year while Nick Alexander said the same of Lake View Lad, hopefully with softer ground aiding his cause.

However, the 2020 National is unlikely to be on the agenda for Captain Redbeard as his trainer Stuart Coltherd doesn’t think he truly stays the 4m 2f. Stuart reckons the shorter trip of the Topham Trophy, staged on the Friday, over the big fences will be more up his street.

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

Monday 8th April

Lucinda Russell on One For Arthur who finished 6th: “He’s fine and we’re all really proud of him as his road to Aintree had its potholes and bumps. It was a marvellous effort and we’ll look at coming back for another crack next year.”

Captain Redbeard finished 16th and his jockey Sam Coltherd said: “He gave me an unbelievable spin although in the end it wasn’t meant to be. I thoroughly enjoyed it and we will be back again next year!”

Lake View Lad was pulled up and trainer Nick Alexander said: “A poor start and the drying ground meant it wasn’t to be our day, but he has taken us on some journey. He’s home safe and I’m really proud of him and Team Kinneston and we live to fight another day.”

Scotland’s latest recruit to the training ranks enjoyed his first winner from his new base in the borders when Porth Swtan scored at Musselburgh on Tuesday.

Garry Moss, now operating from the Jedburgh area, has saddled winners from several stables and was all smiles after his 100,000gns purchase did the business on his debut for the yard.

Formerly trained by Charlie Hills, Porth Swtan now carries the colours of Dumfriesshire owner Hal McGhie who has enjoyed plenty of success down through the years with various trainers.

The Scottish racing scene lost one of its real characters with the recent passing of Sue Bradburne at the age of 70.

Sue, who sent out 1999 Grand National runner-up Blue Charm, registered many winners ridden by her husband Johnny after taking over the reins at the family’s stables in Ladybank in Fife in 1988. Her son and daughter, Mark and Lorna, also both rode winners on horses trained by their mother.

Sue will be sadly missed by all who knew her, and our thoughts and condolences go out to the Bradburne family.

Champion trainer Nicky Henderson will attempt to win the Coral Scottish Grand National for the first time at Ayr on Saturday when he runs Cheltenham hero Beware The Bear in the £215,000 contest.

Set to carry top weight of 11st 12lb and almost certain to be ridden by Nico de Boinville, the nine year-old will relish the going at the track which is expected to be good.

If Beware The Bear can replicate his Ultima Chase win at Cheltenham, which saw him see off the challenges of Vintage Clouds and Lake View Lad, he will have every chance despite having to concede weight all round.

One trainer who has been successful in the race is Alan King who won in 2013 with Godsmejudge and this time round he is set to saddle Dingo Dollar who ran second in the £100,000 novices’ chase at the course on Scottish National day last year.

Last time out Dingo Dollar was second in the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster to the Nicky Richards trained Chidswell but has an 8lb pull in the weights for a nine-length defeat and this puts the King horse in with a great chance of turning the tables on his rival this time.

Scotland’s best hope in the country’s richest race could be the Lucinda Russell trained Big River who finished fourth behind Beware The Bear at Cheltenham and who is 9lb better off in the weights with that rival.

A field of 30 runners is expected to go to post in front of a sell-out crowd of more than 18,000.

The CPMS Scottish Champion Hurdle has a prize fund of £105,000 and will feature some of the top two-mile hurdlers in Britain and Ireland with Paul Nicholls likely to run Grand Sancy, a five-year old who has already won a Grade 2, and Sandown Imperial Cup winner Malaya.

Dan Skelton is another trainer likely to have more than one runner in the Scottish Champion Hurdle with Sofia’s Rock a former Flat horse who looks to have the credentials to do well in a race like this.

The £100,000 J & D Pierce Novices’ Championship Handicap Chase is the target for Blue Fight trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies and the mount of Callum Bewley.

The opening day of the two-day Festival on Friday features the Hillhouse Quarry Chase, Listed Race, where Borders trainer Sandy Thomson could run the French bred eight year-old Dimple.

There are still tickets available for Ladies’ Day on Friday.

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


Sunday 1st March

40 years ago today (31st March 1979) Rubstic supplied Scotland with a memorable first success in the Grand National at Aintree.

Trained at Denholm, near Hawick, by John Leadbetter, the 25/1 chance was ridden by Cumbrian jockey Maurice Barnes and carried the colours of former British Lion and Scottish No 8 John Douglas.

Such was the popularity of the two-length victory that betting shops in the borders ran out of cash as they struggled to pay out winnings to scores of nationalistic punters.

Rubstic, named after the Swedish version of a Brillo Pad and the smallest horse in the Aintree line-up, lived until the ripe old age of 26 when he passed away peacefully at his retirement stable in Ladykirk between Berwick and Coldstream.

A sound jumper who only fell once in his career, he was one of only seven horses to complete a dramatic race from a field of 34.

Meanwhile Joe Farrell, the winner of the 2018 Coral Scottish Grand National, is among the 67 entries for this year’s running of Scotland’s richest race.

The Rebecca Curtis trained ten year-old returned to form at Newbury on Saturday finishing second to Chic Name in a three mile two furlong handicap chase.

Although he holds an entry in the Grand National, he looks more likely to head to Ayr to defend his crown.

Last year’s runner up Ballyoptic, beaten only a nose, could re-oppose.  The sponsors make Joe Farrell 10-1 joint favourite with Alan King’s Dingo Dollar.

Among the other notable entries is Beware The Bear, winner of the Ultima Chase at Cheltenham earlier this month and the nine year-old is one of two Nicky Henderson trained horses entered for the £215,000 contest, the other being Vyta du Roc.

Crosshue Boy who won the inaugural running of the £100,000 three-mile Novices’ Handicap Chase on Coral Scottish Grand National Day last year could make a return trip from Ireland to compete in the big race this year.

The Scottish based entries include Lucinda Russell’s Big River, fourth in the Cheltenham race won by Beware The Bear, and Geronimo from the Sandy Thomson yard.

West-country trainer Colin Tizzard has Sizing Codelco and Royal Vacation entered while Paul Nicholls has three entries including Give Me a Copper part owned by Sir Alex Ferguson and Jeremy Kyle.

The main supporting contest on the day, the £105,000 CPMS Scottish Champion Hurdle has attracted 41entries with the 2016 winner Ch’tibello fresh from his success in the County Hurdle at Cheltenham the top rated.

Other entries include Tom George’s Summerville Boy, the Colin Tizzard trainedVision des Flos and Pinsghou, Nicky Henderson’s Verdana BlueBrain Power andAngels Breath and Paul Nicholls’ Malaya.

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


Sunday 24th March

The Listed three-mile £35,000 Fair Maid of Perth Chase for mares only, which is sponsored by the Thoroughbred Breeders Association, was won last year by Peter Bowen’s Rons Dream who followed up in similar company.

The other main event is the £25,000 Highland National over 3m 6f and the longest race contested at Perth all season.

Scottish trainers have a good recent recent record with the 2016 renewal going to Iain Jardine-trained Double Whammy while Nick and Lucy Alexander won in 2014 with Bertie Milan. Last year it went to Chic Name trained at Cheltenham by Richard Hobson.

Saltcoats-born Robert Havlin is set to miss the start of the Flat season at Doncaster on Saturday as he recovers from injuries sustained in a fall at Kempton last month.

The Scots jockey, who is an important part of the team at John Gosden’s powerful Newmarket stables, broke his collarbone and fractured some ribs after Beehaar collided with another horse on the home turn in a handicap over a mile.

Robert reports that, while the specialists are pleased with his collarbone, his ribs are still a bit sore and a tear has subsequently been discovered in a cruciate knee ligament.

The 45-year-old Ayrshireman enjoyed his best season in 2018 with 127 winners.

The final day of Musselburgh’s jumps season saw leading course jockey Brian Hughes seal another successful campaign at the East Lothian venue when landing the most valuable prize on Keith Dalgleish-trained Sporting Press.


Sunday 17th March

What a tremendous run we saw from Grand National-bound Lake View Lad who produced a great effort to finish third on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival.

Nick Alexander’s stable star stayed on strongly up the famous hill just over three lengths behind Beware The Bear in the Ultima Handicap Chase, and it is now all systems go for Aintree on 6th April.

All Club badges and Grandstand tickets for the Coral Scottish Grand National at Ayr Racecourse on Saturday 13th April are sold out more than a month before the event.

Following on from Club badges selling out, the final Grandstand tickets were sold last week. Now the only admission available on the day is through the few remaining hospitality places.

There are Club badges and Grandstand tickets available for the opening day of the two-day Coral Scottish Grand National Festival – Ladies’ Day on 12th April.

A crowd of more than 18,000 will watch the biggest event in the Scottish racing calendar which features the £215,000 Coral Scottish Grand National, the £105,000 CPMS Scottish Champion Hurdle and the £100,000 J & D Pierce Novices’ Handicap Chase.

This is the fourth successive year the Saturday of the Coral Scottish Grand National Festival has been sold out but it is by far the earliest.

To book Club Badges and Grandstand tickets for Coral Scottish Grand National Ladies’ Day on Friday April 12 go online at www.scottishgrandnationalfestival.co.uk/ or call 01292 264179.

Racing coming up in Scotland this week starts with Musselburgh’s final jumps action of the campaign on Friday followed by a cracking card at Kelso on Saturday.

With over £162,000 in prize money, quite rightly, the ITV cameras are covering a tremendous fixture from the borders venue where there is a £50,000 feature over fences plus a couple of £40,000 supporting events over hurdles.

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



Sunday 10th March

Good luck to all the Scottish connections at this week’s Cheltenham Festival which runs from Tuesday through to Friday.

I see trainers Lucinda Russell, Nick Alexander, Keith Dalgleish and Iain Jardine have entries at the four-day extravaganza, but a lot will depend on whether the various horses get in their respective races.

One horse that is unlikely to be eliminated is Nick Alexander-trained Lake View Lad, a 25/1 chance for the Ultima Handicap Chase on the opening card, although Lucinda Russell’s Big River may not make the ‘cut’.

However, it would come as no surprise if Lake View Lad bypassed the Festival and headed straight to Aintree for the Grand National on Saturday 6th April.

His jockey Henry Brooke told me at a Cheltenham Festival preview event the other night how much he was looking forward to riding him over the big National fences.

The Racecourse Association (RCA) is delighted to announce the 10th annual Showcase & Awards will take place at Hamilton Park Racecourse on Thursday 14th November.

The RCA’s Brand & Experience Manager Paul Swain stated “We are thrilled to finally take the Showcase & Awards to Scotland and what better place than to our Showcase Champion racecourse, and five-star venue, Hamilton Park. We are looking forward to working closely with the Hamilton Park team to deliver the best event yet.”

Hamilton Park Chief Executive, Vivien Currie, added “It will be wonderful to open our doors to the industry and put on a great show with the RCA for the 10th annual Showcase & Awards. We’re excited to show off our new hotel, introduce some friends of the racecourse and include a few surprises along the way. It’s the 10th Showcase and the first in Scotland—we want to make it the best yet.”

Further details about the 2019 Showcase & Awards will be shared throughout the year.

Edinburgh-based Gerry McGladery has a burning ambition to be leading owner over jumps at Musselburgh and he has four runners on Sunday’s card at his local venue.

Gerry, currently leading the race to realise his dream, is represented by GemologistElmonoNeeds To Be Seen and Max Liebermann at the East Lothian track.

Club Badges and Grandstand Tickets for Ayr’s Coral Scottish Grand National on Saturday 13th April are now completely sold out.  There is some limited space available in the hospitality packages, but these places will not last long, so make sure you head over to the website to book your place: www.scottishgrandnationalfestival.co.uk

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


Sunday 3rd March

It was great to see Catch Bissett at Musselburgh on Wednesday when she presented the prizes for the race named in her honour after scooping Employee of the Year Award at the glittering Godolphin Stud and Stable bash in London.

Also in attendance at the East Lothian venue was rugby icon Doddie Weir.  Doddie was there to see Royal Reserve, carrying the colours of London Scots For Doddie, finish third. Since being diagnosed with motor neurone disease, the horse, along with The Doddie Weir Trust, has helped raise money for a most worthy cause.

Club badges for the Coral Scottish Grand National Saturday at Ayr Racecourse have sold out more than six weeks before the event on April 13.

It is the fifth successive year, the sold-out signs have gone up and there are now only Grandstand tickets left for the big day and they too sold out in 2016, 2017 and 2018 and racecourse officials recommend those wanting to purchase these tickets do so as soon as possible.

Tickets are also available for the opening day of the two-day Festival – Ladies Day on Friday April 12 – which is one of the most glamorous days of the year at the track.

Prize-money at the Coral Scottish Grand National Festival this year is more than £710,000 and most of the leading jockeys and trainers in the UK and Ireland will be participating.

To book Grandstand tickets for Saturday 13th April, or Club Badges and Grandstand tickets for Coral Scottish Grand National Ladies’ Day on Friday 12th April, go online at www.scottishgrandnationalfestival.co.uk/ or call 01292-264179.

Scottish Racing regularly invites parliamentarians for a behind the scenes tour of a racecourse and we were delighted to welcome Maurice Golden MSP, Finlay Carson MSP and Richard Lyle MSP to Musselburgh Racecourse this week, and we were also joined by the Scottish SPCA and World Horse Welfare. This was a great opportunity to showcase the high standards of welfare that exist across all Scottish racecourses for all our equine and human participants.

As a follow-on to Scottish Racing’s support of the charity Alzheimer Scotland, a ‘Dementia Friends’ information session has been held at Musselburgh Racecourse with staff taking part.

Scottish Racing and William Hill has embraced the work of Alzheimer Scotland and has committed to stage Dementia Friends information sessions at all the racecourses across Scotland. The sessions are interactive and will enable racecourse and William Hill staff to increase their understanding of dementia. Dementia Friends outlines the small ways in which everyone can help support those living with the illness and their families.

With over 90,000 people living with dementia in Scotland and the number on the rise, the workshop at Musselburgh Racecourse is a further step forward in the partnership between Scotland’s national dementia charity, William Hill and Scottish Racing.

Don’t forget to watch all the action live from 61 of Britain and Ireland’s best racecourse only on Racing TV. Join now: http://bit.ly/2UnH92p


Sunday 24th February

A busy week for racing in Scotland starts on Monday with a seven-race card at Ayr where several possible Cheltenham runners could be having a prep run ahead of next month’s Festival.

One such horse is Kim Bailey-trained Dandy Dan, pencilled in for the feature event – the Like Racing TV On Facebook Novices’ Chase, who holds an entry in the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham.

Musselburgh stages a two-day meeting on Wednesday and Thursday with the second fixture an extra one awarded by the BHA to help make up for recent abandonments due to the weather and equine flu.

Kelso rounds off the week with a real swing on Saturday when the ITV Racing cameras will be in attendance for Premier Hurdle and Premier Chase day when there is over £157,000 in prize money on offer.

As revealed here recently we could see a clash of Scotland’s three Grand National hopes at the borders venue as Captain Redbeard, Lake View Lad and One For Arthur are all possibles for the £60,000 Listed Premier Chase.

Meanwhile Ayr has announced a brand new sponsor for the third richest jumps race in Scotland.

J & D Pierce Contracts will sponsor the 2019 running of the £100,000 Novices’ Championship Handicap Chase at Ayr Racecourse on Saturday 13th April – Coral Scottish Grand National Saturday.

The company, based in Glengarnock, Ayrshire, is the country’s foremost structural steelwork contractor employing more than 350 staff and specialising in the design, fabrication, painting and site erection of structural steelwork, working with some of the biggest construction projects in the for over 40 years.

The Novices’ Championship Handicap Chase race was run for the first-time last year and was a huge success attracting a quality field of 17 runners and producing a really exciting finish with the Irish trained Crosshue Boy coming out on top.

Heritage Portfolio, the Edinburgh-based bespoke event caterers, have won the race to a prestigious ten-year contract at Perth.

Effective from this month, the announcement follows an extremely competitive tender process after which Perth committed to introduce a more niche and tailored catering provision for its race days and busy events programme.

Heritage Portfolio recently became part of the Sodexo group following Sodexo’s acquisition last year. Sodexo has been the catering provider at Perth since 2005 and will now make way for their own recently acquired subsidiary ensuring an easy transition to Heritage Portfolio prior to the new season.

The company has established a reputation for catering excellence at Musselburgh Racecourse, nearby Scone Palace and the new V&A Museum in Dundee.

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


Sunday 17th February

The weights for the Randox Health Grand National were unveiled earlier this week and there is a chance Scotland’s three contenders could clash at Kelso next month.

Lake View Lad, who has been allotted 10st 11lb, One For Arthur (10st 10lb) and Captain Redbeard (9st 13lb) may all use the Premier Chase at the Borders venue on 2nd March as their stepping stone to the Aintree marathon on the first Saturday in April.

Captain Redbeard sprung an upset at Kelso on Thursday when taking care of sole rival and 1/6 hot pot Definitely Red and trainer Stuart Coltherd hinted that he could either return to his local track in a fortnight or revert to hurdles at Ayr a week later.

Nick Alexander has already pinpointed the Premier Chase for Lake View Lad, bidding to become a rare grey winner, while Lucinda Russell had her hand forced more with One For Arthur as his intended engagement at Haydock yesterday was scuppered due to the requirements of an equine flu jab.

What a day it promises to be at Kelso with the ITV Racing cameras also set to be in attendance.

Musselburgh has been awarded an additional February race meeting by the British Horseracing Authority as the industry gets back in to full swing following the equine flu outbreak.

It means the East Lothian track will stage back-to-back meetings with a total £100,000 prize fund on Wednesday and Thursday February 27 and 28 – and there will be free admission for racegoers on both days.

Musselburgh, which lost its premium bet365 Scottish Cheltenham Trials weekend due to adverse weather and then a substitute fixture to the equine flu ban, said offering free admission was a gesture of goodwill to disadvantaged racegoers.

General manager, Bill Farnsworth, said: “We have had an incredible run of bad luck due to circumstances completely out with our control, but we are delighted the BHA has awarded this additional fixture on 28 February.

“With double-header meetings it makes it more attractive for trainers who want to send horses to Musselburgh and this extra meeting is all the more welcome after the six day halt to racing which impacted on the whole racing industry.

“We will have more than £100,000 prize money on offer over the two days and we hope our regular race goers and other casual race goers will take full advantage of free admission on both days.”

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

Sunday 10th February

It’s an important week for Scotland’s three Randox Health Grand National entries as the weights for the race dubbed ‘The World’s Greatest Steeplechase’ are announced on Tuesday.

Connections of Captain RedbeardLake View Lad and One For Arthur will be in attendance at a glittering lunch in the Cunard Building on the waterfront in Liverpool.

Lucinda Russell-trained One For Arthur of course brought the National home to Scotland for the first time since Rubstic in 1979 and his current BHA rating of 154 is 6lbs above the mark he carried to victory in 2017.

Nick Alexander’s Lake View Lad has gone up a total of 16lbs for his impressive wins at Newcastle and Wetherby and is presently on 155, just a pound above ‘Arthur’.

Captain Redbeard, trained in the hills above Selkirk by Stuart Coltherd, will be receiving weight from his two compatriots as his official rating is 143, similar to the mark he raced off when unseating his jockey on the first circuit of last year’s National.

The ratings are the starting point for the BHA’s Head Of Handicapping, Martin Greenwood, when he compiles the weights as he then ‘tweaks’ them a little to allow for the famous ‘Aintree Factor’ on such a unique course.

Best wishes go to Robert (Rab) Havlin who expects to be out of action for at least six weeks after suffering a heavy fall on the Flat at Kempton on Wednesday.

The Saltcoats jockey had a CT scan which revealed he had a broken collarbone and a cracked rib.

Rab has been an integral part of John Gosden’s powerful Newmarket for many years and he is currently fourth in the all-weather championship on 36 winners.

February is normally a quiet month anyway and he is hoping to be back in time for the start of the Flat turf season towards the end of March.

The outbreak of equine influenza has serious implications and only time will tell if the disease has been contained early enough due to the various measures triggered by the sport’s authorities including the suspension of racing in the UK.

At the time of writing action isn’t set to resume until Wednesday at the earliest which would be good news for Musselburgh’s extra meeting that afternoon and Kelso for the prestigious Morebattle Hurdle card the following day.

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

Sunday 3rd February

Scottish Racing is delighted to announce that three Scottish Racecourses have been awarded five stars from VisitScotland.

The award, given to Ayr, Hamilton Park and Musselburgh from VisitScotland for raceday experience, is the most prestigious accolade given by the tourist board, as part of the Racecourse Association’s (RCA) Quality Assured Racecourse Scheme (QARS).

The Racecourse Association’s (RCA) Quality Assured Racecourse Scheme (QARS) in 2018 once again saw all British racecourses accredited as ‘good’ or better as average scores increase to 83%. This score is the highest on record for this scheme, demonstrating the continued investment in raceday experience by British Racecourses.

Each Scottish racecourse is visited by a trained assessor from VisitScotland whose job is to objectively assesses the raceday experience. This assessment includes all customer touchpoints from the raceday and also comprises pre and post event information.

Ayr retained its five-star rating demonstrating a long-standing offering of excellence to racegoers. Musselburgh and Hamilton Park are the other Scottish courses to have five-star ratings.

Paul Swain, the RCA’s Brand & Experience Manager, commented : “The Quality Assured Racecourse Scheme is a much-valued offering from the RCA in that it provides an expert, objective assessment of the raceday experience. More importantly, the feedback and evidence generated help racecourses to improve this year on year which I am delighted to say has been reflected in the scores.”

David Brown, Managing Director, Ayr Racecourse, said : “We are absolutely delighted to have been awarded Five Stars from VisitScotland again in recognition of the quality of the visitor experience we are providing.  This is an accolade which we’ve been hoping to win for some time and it’s a real testimony to the commitment and hard work of all of our staff to not only deliver, but consistently maintain, the very highest standards in everything they do across all that we offer.

“The Racecourse is already a favourite with so many people for a fantastic, fun and memorable day out at the races or for a special function. Now that we have this award, demonstrating the ‘exceptional quality’ of the visitor experience here and raising our profile as an absolutely first-class venue, we’ll hopefully encourage even more to come here and also attract an increased number of prestigious hospitality events.”

Riddell Graham, Director of Industry and Destination Development at VisitScotland, said: “I am delighted that these racecourses rated so highly in terms of the information they provided to racegoers and at every point where they came in contact with racecourse staff, as this assures our visitors of a total high-quality experience.

“Customers are always looking for quality and value-for-money and delivering an experience that meets and exceeds visitor expectations is crucial in making Scotland a must-visit, must-return destination.”

It was such a shame that this weekend’s valuable bet365 Scottish Cheltenham Trials Weekend was lost to the cold snap.

Despite the considerable cost of deploying frost covers, the temperatures dipped well below freezing on several nights with -10c being recorded by clerk of the course Harriet Graham on Friday morning.

Perhaps all might not be lost as the Musselburgh team are in consultation with the BHA about the possibility of a replacement fixture in the not-too-distant future.

Depending on when milder weather arrives, some of the feature races could be ‘saved’ for a bumper additional card at the East Lothian venue.

Sunday 27th January

Ground staff at Musselburgh are pulling out all the stops to provide optimum conditions for the track’s bet365 Scottish Cheltenham Trials Weekend on Saturday and Sunday.

With such changeable and unseasonal dry weather, the East Lothian track has put a number of measures in place to ensure its premier jumps meeting of the season is a success.

Clerk of the Course, Harriet Graham, said: “Owners and trainers can be assured we are working really hard to counter the challenging weather conditions and to provide the best ground possible for our key meetings next weekend.

“At Musselburgh we have only had 2mm of rain this year so have continued with a watering programme throughout January. With temperatures forecast to rise over this weekend we will water 10mm today and on Saturday and then as the temperature drops next week we will cover the entire course with fleece and frost covers.

“All chase fences and hurdles have been moved on to fresh ground and our excellent ground staff are doing their utmost stay one step ahead of the changeable weather conditions we are encountering.”

With more than £240,000 in prize money over the Saturday and Sunday jumps racing festival, the East Lothian course is expected strong fields from the leading UK and Irish yards to be in the mix before entries close on Monday.

February is almost upon us and Ayr stages three meetings in all during the month on the 6th, 12th and 25th while Musselburgh also race on the 27th.

The other February fixture in Scotland is at Kelso on Valentine’s Day which to racing enthusiasts is better known as Morebattle Hurdle Day.

Twelve months ago, Cyrus Darius supplied Ruth Jefferson with her first training success when gaining his second successive victory in the prestigious two mile, two furlong conditions event.

It was great to see Nick Alexander’s Landecker continue his love affair with Kelso on Tuesday.

The Kinneston raider was landing his sixth win at the borders venue and has never been successful at any other track

In other news from the in-form Alexander stable, Nick was telling me the other day that his Grand National fancy, Lake View Lad, is due to contest the Premier Chase at Kelso in early March ahead of his date with destiny at Aintree on April 6th.

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

Sunday 20th January

The Coral Scottish Grand National is the fourth biggest race in terms of betting shop turnover for 2018 in figures published by Ladbrokes and Coral – the first time such a list has been released since the merger of the two bookmaking giants.

The only races to do better than the Ayr marathon are the Grand National, the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Derby. A total of 25 of the top 40 betting races are run at the Cheltenham Festival.

The Coral Scottish Grand National also occupied fourth place in the last list compiled by Coral, but the new stats include all Ladbrokes shops as well.

There is no other race north of Aintree in the top 40.

Next action in Scotland sees a well-subscribed seven-race card at Ayr on Sunday and a busy-looking meeting at Kelso on Tuesday.

One-time Champion Hurdle entry Aristo Du Plessis and Grand National-bound Lake View Lad are two of the more interesting horses pencilled in for the Borders venue and they are both in the same race.

The class 2 two-mile four-furlong handicap hurdle sees the former, trained by James Ewart, step back up in trip, while Nick Alexander’s Lake View Lad has impressed in his two starts over fences this term at Newcastle and Wetherby.

Meanwhile Scotswell, one of the most popular Scottish jumpers of recent times, has been retired by his trainer and breeder Harriet Graham.

The 13-year-old, sound and in one piece after a fall at Kelso last month, is a two-time runner-up in the Borders National at the same track and is expected to be kept busy in various other equestrian disciplines during his retirement.

He gave connections plenty of fun during his racing career, winning ten of his 67 starts including the North Yorkshire Grand National at Catterick in 2015.

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

Sunday 13th January

There was a very good reason for quite a few punters staying behind in the gathering gloom after racing at Ayr on Tuesday.

Word had spread throughout the meeting that 2017 Grand National hero, One For Arthur, was working after the last race and he didn’t disappoint his fan club.

Partnered by regular jockey Derek Fox and accompanied by two young French stablemates, he jumped round almost a circuit of the track to the delight of his trainer Lucinda Russell and his owners who were also in attendance.

As reported here, ‘Arthur’ bypassed the Classic Chase at Warwick with the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock his next intended target on his way back to Aintree.

And there could be a tartan clash in prospect in Lancashire on Saturday as Stuart Coltherd’s Captain Redbeard, runner-up in the race last year, may also be in the line-up.

Nicola Currie has started the New Year the same way she ended 2018 – by riding winners.

Her latest spree came at Chelmsford on Thursday night when the lass from Arran completed a sparkling 209/1 hat-trick in races five, six and seven.

Just a fortnight into 2019, her decision to hang around for the winter and cement her contacts and build new ones is reaping its rewards.

The finalists have been announced for the 2019 Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards.

Best of luck to our Scottish finalists!


The Rory Macdonald Community Award:

Sarah Montgomery from Musselburgh Racecourse


The Dedication to Racing Award:

David Macleod from James Ewart’s yard

Jaimie Duff from Lucinda Russell’s yard


The Leadership Award:

Catriona Bissett from Nick Alexander’s yard


Winners will be announced on the day of the awards ceremony, Monday 18th February.


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



Sunday 6th Janaury 2019

Happy New Year!

It’s looking more and more likely that Scotland will have three runners in the Randox Health Grand National.

Lucinda Russell is heading back to Aintree with her 2017 hero One For Arthur, Stuart Coltherd’s Captain Redbeard, who unseated his rider early on last year, is also being targeted at the race while the same aim has been confirmed by Nick Alexander for his rising star Lake View Lad.

Speaking to Lucinda at Ayr earlier this week she wasn’t sure if ‘Arthur’ would run next at Warwick or Haydock although she did hint that the Classic Chase at the former may come too soon which would see him tackle the Peter Marsh Chase instead.

Captain Redbeard, whose final National prep last year came when winning a handicap hurdle at Ayr, could clash with his Scottish rival in the same race as he was a game runner-up in the contest twelve months ago.

Plans are still fluid about where Lake View Lad next appears following his tremendous back-to-back victories in Listed and Grade 3 company at Newcastle and Wetherby.

He was bought privately in the summer by Trevor Hemmings who has a love affair with the race he has won no less than three times with different horses.

Without getting greedy we might have had four runners in the world’s greatest steeplechase but sadly Seeyouatmidnight, a strong fancy prior to finishing 11th last April, has been retired due to a leg injury by Sandy Thomson.

However, providing he recovers sufficiently, a wee bird tells me he could yet return to action as a hunter chaser so the big Aintree fences could still beckon again one day!

Racing in Scotland this week takes place at Musselburgh tomorrow and Ayr on Tuesday with six-race cards starting at 12.50 and 12.55 respectively, while Kelso stages its first action of 2019 on Sunday when the feature race is the £25,000 Racing TV Handicap Chase over 2m 5f.

The Borders track’s final meeting of 2018 last Saturday saw Scottish trainers in rampant form to win all seven races.

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


Sunday 30th December

It’s a busy start to 2019 for Scottish Racing with Musselburgh in action on New Year’s Day and Ayr staging a decent card on 2ndJanuary.

As well as the racing at Musselburgh it is also the 150th renewal of the New Year Sprint, the most enduring open athletics event in the UK.

A handicap race held over 110 metres, the dash has been staged around the Hogmanay period since 1870 and runners this year will compete for a first prize of £8,000 which has doubled from 2017 to mark the special anniversary.

Last year’s winner was Calum McWilliam of East Kilbride while sprinters judged to be the finest of their generation such as Bill Snoddy of the USA, Doug Walker and George McNeill are other names on the famous trophy.

On the track on the feature races is the £31,400 Betway Handicap Hurdle over two miles.

The spoils have remained north of the border in two of the last three years thanks to Jim Goldie’s Sir Chauvelin and James Ewart’s Aristo Du Plessis who is again among the entries for Tuesday.

Keith Dalgleish may have a say in proceedings as the Carluke trainer is triple-handed with Chica Buena, Monsieur Co and The Vocalist.

Also worth the same value is the Betway “Auld Reekie” Handicap Chase and Keith could win that too with Mixboy, a two-time course winner over fences at the East Lothian venue.

It was good to see Derek Fox back in action at Wetherby on Boxing Day and he will be reunited with his Grand National hero One For Arthur at Warwick next month.

Lucinda Russell is sending ‘Arthur’ for the Classic Chase, a race he won on his way to Aintree glory in 2017.

After only getting as far as the third fence on his comeback earlier this month, connections are hoping to squeeze in another outing before his date with destiny back on Merseyside on April 6th.

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


Sunday 23rd December

Nicola Currie rounded off a year to remember when riding the 100th winner of her career on Global Melody at Southwell on Thursday.

The lass from Arran, based with former Flat ace Richard Hughes, has partnered high-profile winners at venues including Ascot as well as riding out her claim.

Next year the hard work really begins as she takes on experienced jockeys on equal terms, but Nicola is going to keep busy during the winter keeping up her contacts and building new ones.

The 25-year-old started in racing with Lucinda Russell who told me the other day just how committed and focused she is and those two traits should hold her in good stead for 2019 and beyond.

Next year will hopefully also be one to look forward to for One For Arthur as his sights are set on another crack at the Grand National in April.

His long-awaited comeback resulted in an early unseat at Aintree earlier this month and connections plan to enter him for the Rowland Meyrick Chase at Wetherby over Christmas.

Warwick in January is a possibility which would see him take the same route as his build up to that memorable Aintree triumph in 2017.

Hopefully whenever he next appears, he will be reunited with regular partner Derek Fox who is recovering from back surgery.

Best wishes go to Seeyouatmidnight after a ligament problem forced Sandy Thomson’s stable star into premature retirement.

He may not be up to the rigours of top class jumps action anymore but, given normal recovery, I hear perhaps a new career as a hunter chaser beckons next year for the pride of Greenlaw.

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


Sunday 16th December

It was a day to remember at Kelso last week as Harry The Viking and Rachael McDonald gained their second successive victory in the Scottish Borders National.

The partnership got a rapturous reception from an appreciative crowd as they returned to the winners’ enclosure to give trainer Sandy Thomson his fourth straight success in the marathon chase.

Greenlaw-based Sandy isn’t ruling out ‘Harry’ coming back for a hat-trick attempt as a 14-year-old but he also pinpointed Geronimo as a possible contender in the 2019 renewal.

Not many trainers have enjoyed such domination in a high-profile race and who knows perhaps Sandy can saddle the one-two next year!

Unfortunately, One For Arthur didn’t get very far on his much-awaited comeback at Aintree as he blundered and unshipped Tom Scudamore at the third fence.

Happily, he is none the worse and Lucinda Russell is considering options for the 2017 Grand National hero which include Wetherby over Christmas, a race at Warwick in January and maybe even a racecourse spin somewhere.

Wherever he ends up his regular partner Derek Fox is hoping to be back on board as he continues to recover from an operation for a troublesome back complaint.

Well done to Dale Irving for riding the 60th winner of his career on Corrieben River at Newcastle on Thursday.

The Langholm-born jockey reached his landmark winner on a horse trained by Alistair Whillans whose son, former jumps pilot Ewan, is being groomed to take over the reins in the not-too-distant future.

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


Sunday 9th December

Dingo Dollar is the latest horse to be targeted at the Coral Scottish National in April.

Lanarkshire-born trainer Alan King has the Ayr Spring showpiece in his mind after his gelding was an honourable third in last weekend’s Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury.

The Welsh National is another possible step along the way, but connections tell me they are working backwards from the Scottish National meeting where Dingo Dollar was third in a valuable chase last year.

Rachael McDonald had an eventful half hour at Musselburgh on Monday when she rode a winner and fell at the second last with another race in the bag!

Even champion jockey Richard Johnson said he was fortunate to win on Come On Charlie after Rachael’s mount Nendrum crashed out hen holding an eleven-length advantage.

But you can’t keep a good rider down and the Borders pilot gave a polished performance in the very next race as John Williams landed a gamble for her boss Sandy Thomson.

Ayr is one of eight leading racecourses in Scotland, Ireland and England handpicked to stage ‘The Series’ – a dynamic new addition to the flat racing calendar that will see branded teams compete in 48 races with more than £100k of prize money per race.

Championship Horse Racing (www.championshiphorseracing.com) has created The Series, which will debut at racecourses in three countries. The proposed courses are: Ayr, Epsom Downs, Goodwood, Haydock Park, Leopardstown, Newbury, Newmarket July Course and Sandown Park.

Fixtures are proposed to take place on eight consecutive Thursday evenings from 25 July to 12 September 2019. The fixtures that form The Series will be additional to the British Racing Fixture List and require the approval of the BHA.

Ayr is Scotland’s only Grade 1 track and is home to its most prestigious flat race meeting the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup festival. Ayr was crowned Sports Venue of the Year at the 2018 Scottish Hospitality awards and holds the accolade of being one of only six Large Racecourses to be awarded a Gold standard by the Racehorse Owners Association.

Jeremy Wray, Chief Executive of CHR, said: “Agreeing the likely racecourse schedule is a key milestone for CHR. Over the next few months we’ll be announcing the teams and the media partners who will broadcast The Series across the world.

“We’re delighted that The Series is due to take place at such a prestigious course as Ayr and that Scotland is one the three countries we debut in. They are great locations and have superb facilities for summer evening racing that promises fans something they’ve never experienced before. Fans will be encouraged to engage with the teams and our aim is to help tell the stories about the tens of thousands of people involved in the sport.”

The Series will feature high profile teams and the biggest names in racing. Each team will comprise a racing manager, four jockeys and a squad of 30 horses.

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


Sunday 2nd December

Captain Redbeard who was quietly fancied prior to an early exit in April’s Grand National, is heading back to Aintree next weekend.

Stuart Coltherd’s Selkirk raider is set to tackle either the Becher Chase or the Grand Sefton Chase over the big fences on Saturday.

His form since unshipping the trainer’s son Sam at Foinavon first time round, has been pretty sound as he’s been third on both starts this term, notably at Haydock last Saturday when he was hampered by fallers twice.

Sam is looking forward to riding the stable star and confirmed that another tilt at the world’s greatest steeplechase in the spring is the long-term plan.

Congratulations to William Johnstone for scooping the Flat owner award at the Magic Moments Of Northern Racing dinner in Newcastle recently.

William, one of the co-owners of Ayr racecourse, is also the owner and breeder of John Smith’s Cup hero Euchen Glen who sprung a 20/1 surprise in the big York handicap in July.

After receiving his prize William told the audience that Euchen Glen is recovering well from the tendon injury that has seen him sidelined since his memorable success on the Knavesmire.

There was plenty of Scottish cheer at Ayr’s final meeting of 2018 as five of the seven races went to a tartan trainer.

Borders based Sandy Thomson, James Ewart and Donald Whillans were all on the mark while Kinneston’s Nick Alexander chipped in with a double.

The west of Scotland venue is back in action on January 2 while the opening Flat card in 2019 is much earlier than normal on April 1.

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


Sunday 25th November

Best wishes go to Luca Cumani who saddled his final runner at Wolverhampton on Thursday when Swansdown was just pipped in second place.

A 43-year training career featured 19 Group 1’s and two Derby wins but Scots punters will recall he also landed the Hamilton Park 2014 Listed Glasgow Stakes with Postponed!

Two opportunities to go racing in Scotland come at Musselburgh on Monday and Ayr on Thursday.

There are decent entries for both and the feature race at Musselburgh is the £12,000 Saltire Festival Handicap Chase, while Ayr stages valuable handicaps over hurdles and fences on a six-race card.

Big fields are anticipated for Ayr’s final meeting of 2018 which has attracted a very healthy 161 entries.

Course specialist Nicky Richards will be sending several horses north from his Penrith base including Glinger Flame who was second at Ayr in a national hunt flat race back in May and is an intended runner in the opening maiden hurdle over two miles.

Lucinda Russell has also pencilled in recent course winner Highland Hunter, who carries the colours of Thomas Barr, for the novices’ hurdle over three miles.

Meanwhile Betway have been announced as sponsors of Musselburgh’s prestigious New Year’s Day fixture.

The key meeting in the East Lothian track’s jumps season attracts a crowd of 5000 racegoers and two races are broadcast live as part of ITV’s festive racing package which is anchored from Cheltenham.

Betway, which has invested a significant five figure sum, will have naming and branding rights to the January 1 day and branding opportunities at two other Musselburgh fixtures on January 7 and 18.

The New Year’s Day meeting pulls in Musselburgh’s second biggest crowd of the year, behind only the sell-out Stobo Castle Ladies Day held in June and is a popular destination for local residents and festive visitors looking for a novel way to celebrate the first day of the year.

Feature races on the day, both valued at £30,000, are The Betway Auld Reekie Steeple Chase and The Betway Hogmaneigh Hurdle, while the finals of the 150th New Year Sprint, the world’s oldest athletics handicapped race, are held between racing.

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


Sunday 18th November

Hats off to Nicola Currie as the lass from Arran rode out her claim when gaining the 95th success of her career on Hold Still at Chelmsford on Thursday night.

It actually should have happened at the same venue on Tuesday, as she was first past the post on Florencio when the lights went out!

Now she is a fully-fledged jockey, the hard work really begins and she intends to get stuck in straight away by keeping up her connections with the likes of Richard Hughes, Jamie Osborne, Phil McEntee and Henry Candy.

Good luck to Rowan Scott as I hear the Hawick-born jockey is off to Dubai for the winter.

Rowan, who is based with Keith Dalgleish during most of the year, was enjoying a day out at Kelso the other day and he expects to be back in plenty of time for the start of the 2019 turf season.

Perth has appointed Matthew Taylor as new Racing Manager and he will be trained up to become clerk of the course by current incumbent Harriet Graham.

A former betting shop manager, Matthew is currently employed at the Racecourse Association and will start his new job with Britain’s most northerly venue on January 1st.

One For Arthur and Captain Redbeard are among the entries for the Becher Chase at Aintree next month.

It will be great to see One For Arthur back in action as he hasn’t raced since that memorable Grand National triumph over same fences in 2017.

And Stuart Coltherd was delighted with Captain Redbeard’s seasonal return when finishing third over hurdles at Carlisle recently. The Selkirk raider was still in touch when unshipping his jockey early on in last season’s National.

Captain Redbeard also holds an entry in the Grand Sefton on the same card as Nick Alexander’s Clan Legend, along with Lucinda Russell’s Voix D’Eau and Forest des Aigles.

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


Sunday 4th November

Hawick-born Jason Hart is enjoying his best-ever year and the former champion apprentice has ridden several winners this week.

His haul included a double at Catterick’s final Flat action of 2018 which saw him crowned leading jockey at the North Yorkshire venue.

Jason, who can ride at 8st 7lb, has partnered almost 70 winners in the UK and the total doesn’t include the Listed success ofEl Astronaute at Maisons-Laffitte last month.

Linda Perratt saddled her seventh winner of the year when Popping Corks carried the colours of the East Kilbride trainer to victory at Newcastle on Thursday night.

Formerly trained by Richard Hannon, the Scottish raider had shown promise on her first two starts for Miss Perratt at Musselburgh.

She was the second winner for her trainer at Newcastle since the Tapeta surface was installed and there should be more to come from this filly now 6f appears her ideal trip.

Cheltenham Festival winning trainer Colin Parker will be remembered at Carlisle on Sunday with the latest renewal of the intermediate chase staged in his memory.

Based near Lockerbie, Colin struck at the 1997 Festival with Sparky Gayle who was sent off 3/1 favourite prior to his victory in the Cathcart Cup.

‘Sparky’ enjoyed a long and happy retirement with his East Lothian owner Ray Green before passing away at the ripe old age of 28 in August.

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


Sunday 28th October

Owner David Armstrong has touted his recent Wetherby winner Acdc as an early fancy for the 2019 Coral Scottish Grand National.

I hear the road to Ayr in April will be over hurdles as connections bid to protect his chase handicap mark but don’t be surprised if he picks up a race or two over timber along the way.

David’s familiar black and white stripes are often seen in the winners’ enclosure during the jumps campaign and another of his horses to follow include Iain Jardine-trained novice chaser Cool Mix.

The strapping grey, a wide-margin winner at Ayr on his final run last term, made a pleasing debut over fences at Wetherby behind a Nicky Henderson hot-pot and has the scope to make the grade as a novice chaser.

Harriet Graham is also doing some forward planning and she is targeting a step up in class for her improving young hurdler Aye Right.

There is talk of the Jedburgh gelding, who carries the colours of Kelso director Geoff Adam, heading for the big three-day meeting at Cheltenham next month to see just how good he is.

Judging on his back-to-back victories at Kelso – the latest which was achieved by a yawning nine-lengths – he will be far from disgraced.

There are 154 entries from far and wide for Ayr’s opening jumps action of the autumn tomorrow.

Keep an eye on Trongate as I see former bookie Matt Sawyer has snapped up the services of champion jockey Richard Johnson for his gambled-on Kelso scorer.

The talking has now stopped and it is all about action now as the 2018/19 Jumps season has arrived – and it is set to be a cracker!

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


Sunday 21st October

Goninodaethat, a favourite horse with many Scottish punters, has been retired by his trainer Jim Goldie.

The popular ten-year-old, who was pulled up by Graham Lee at Musselburgh on his sole spin over hurdles, won eight of his 102 career starts and every single victory came at Ayr.

His final run came as a 50/1 outsider at his beloved Ayr when tenth of 17 ten days ago.

While many racing fans will be sorry to see him gallop off to a well-earned retirement, plenty of commentators will be glad to see the back of him as they struggled to get their tongues around his name!

Also off to new homes are two other Goldie stalwarts Braes Of Lochalsh and Great Fighter.

The latter was a game stayer on the Flat and also won three times over hurdles for owner Jimmy Fyffe while the former stayed well too and captured four races on the level in the Johnnie Delta colours.

Meanwhile the 2018 season as a real success story at Perth with a 4.4% increase in attendances and a 3% rise in the number of runners.

Online tickets for 2019 – with all prices frozen – have just gone on sale and the Scone venue also announced the key results from a record-breaking season this year. Perth committed more than £1m to overall season prize-money for the first time in its 405-year history, which racegoers and owners and trainers responded to in equally positive measure.

On the track, 898 runners packed competitive fields across the 15 racedays (up on 872 last year) with Brian Hughes, Gordon Elliott and Paul and Clare Rooney winning the track’s Edinburgh Gin-sponsored end-of-season awards for top jockey, trainer and owner respectively.

In the stands it was also a bumper six months for Perth with 52,445 racegoers flocking through the gates, up by 4.4% on 50,101 last year and equating to a fixture average of 3,496. This included a successful season-opening, three-day Perth Festival, sold-out Ladies Day and Summer Carnival, new Saturday BRAW Raceday and another bumper Gold Cup crowd.

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


Sunday 14th October

The curtain comes down on another Flat season in Scotland at Musselburgh on Monday….

And despite the ground being on the quick side with East Lothian escaping the rain, massive entries have been received for every race.

The £20,000 feature event is the Racegoers Club 50th Anniversary Handicap over 7f and Roger Fell has already secured the services of handy 5lb claimer Cameron Noble for last year’s winner Muntadab.

Racing on the level returns north of the border at Ayr with an earlier than usual start to their Flat campaign on 1st April 2019, while Musselburgh race the following afternoon.

Best wishes go to Nakeeta ahead of a possible second crack at the Melbourne Cup.

Trainer Iain Jardine was telling me the Dumfriesshire raider is expected to arrive in Australia over the weekend although he not certain to make the final cut of 24 for the ‘race that stops a nation’ on November 6th.

Though on the same mark off which he finished a gallant fifth last year, he is 36th on the order of entry.

I hear the plan is for Nakeeta, 50% of whom has been sold to an Aussie owner for the Spring carnival, to have a run at Moonee Valley in the hope that a good performance would move him up the list

Nicola Currie again advertised her talents with a superb 65/1 double at Ascot last Saturday.

The lass from Arran, who has been based with Richard Hughes for almost three years, sure has done good and her brace included the biggest win of her career on Raising Sand in the £180,000 heritage handicap.

Earlier in the summer she rode out her 5lb claim and now her tally for the calendar year in the mid-sixties.

She looks certain to add plenty more to that total before the end of December.

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


Sunday 5th October

Flat racing takes place for the final time in 2018 at Ayr on Thursday 11th, when it’s sure to be a bumper card as the entries are huge.

The feature race is the Western House Hotel Handicap over the Ayr Gold Cup distance of 6f.

I hear there is more drainage work, subject to permission from the BHA, to be carried on the home straight.

The area recently completed was a great success and clerk of the course Graeme Anderson, a former head groundsman, and his team deserve a pat on the back.

Jumping starts at the Craigie track on 29th October followed by three more days National Hunt action in November.

Paula Muir is enjoying a real purple patch in what is, by far, her best ever year.

The lass from Lanarkshire recently rode her 21st winner of the year and her career has taken off since moving from Middleham to Michael Dods’ powerful Darlington yard.

A tell-tale sign of her ‘arrival’ on the scene has been the number of outside rides she has been getting.

I see the trainers using her services include Roger Fell, Philip Kirby, Julie Camacho, Mark Walford and Wilf Storey.

The Hamilton brothers from Hawick are both on the verge of riding 100 winners.

Eldest sibling Jamie has partnered 82 under Rules and 17 point-to-pointing, while Tom, who works for Joseph O’Brien, is currently on the 96 mark.

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


Sunday 30th September

Gordon Elliott is close to scooping £1m in prize money at Perth after his five-timer at the track’s Glorious Finale on Thursday.

He saddled seven winners over the two-day meeting and his haul since Arresting opened his account in 2006 is now over £989,000.

In total, Gordon has saddled 170 winners at Perth, an amazing figure considering his next highest tally is the 33 he has recorded at Cheltenham.

He will surely break the magic £1m barrier in the 30th year of the Perth festival in April 2019.

It was great to see and hear so many moving tributes to former Perth general manager Sam Morshead who sadly passed away last Tuesday.

Sam transformed the Scone track during his 27 year tenure and his legacy is the bustling venue we all enjoy in the present day.

Meanwhile those who attended Kelso’s opening fixture of the Autumn recently, would have noticed the new pool betting screens among the many changes since the last day’s racing back in May.

The Borders venue is the first racecourse to install the new BoscaBet system which is going to become a common sight on course, as 56 of the 60 racecourses in Britain are switching across over the next few months. It aims to make placing your tote bet easier, and with tips and insights on screen, it should hopefully make it more profitable!

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



Sunday 23rd September

This week’s blog from Scottish Racing looks at:

  • Racing at Perth on Wednesday 26th and Thursday 27th
  • A look back at Kelso first day of the Season on Wednesday
  • Kelso is first racecourse to install new BoscaBet pool betting screens

Big names again feature in the entries for the Glorious Finale fixture at Perth on Wednesday and Thursday.

The feature race of Wednesday, the £30,000 David Whitaker Handicap Chase is named in memory of the late Chairman, and I see Gordon Elliott, who has a stack of entries over the two days, is four-handed.

Nicky Henderson has booked Gold Cup-winning jockey Nico de Boinville for the ride on Monbeg Legend while the name of Sam Twiston-Davies is alongside Double Ross who ran April’s Grand National.

Future stars usually emerge from the second day and Nigel Twiston-Davies is the trainer to follow in the novices’ chase, a race he has won five times in the past eight years.

This time he has pencilled in El Terremoto who has been successful once from just three starts over fences in the colours of top owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede.

Scottish trainers Lucinda Russell, Keith Dalgleish, Nick Alexander, Sandy Forster, Alistair Whillans, Jackie Stephen, Iain Jardine, Andrew Hamilton, Lucy Normile, Katie Scott and Stuart Coltherd will be doing their best to make sure some of the prize money remains on home soil.

Hugh Burns enjoyed his first success for four years when Slaney Craiglegacy won at Kelso’s opening card of the autumn on Wednesday.

Though based in Northumberland, Hugh is a native of East Lothian and he told me he actually gave up training for 35 years at one point!

His most recent winner had come courtesy of Oxalido at Perth in early September 2014.

Hugh now trains from Hedgeley Hall, near Powburn and is around an hour south of Kelso.

Those who attended Kelso on Wednesday would have noticed the new pool betting screens among the many changes since the last day’s racing back in the spring. Kelso is the first racecourse to install the new BoscaBet system which is going to become a common sight on course as 56 of the 60 racecourses in Britain are switching across over the next few months. It aims to make placing your tote bet easier, and with tips and insights on screen it should hopefully make it more profitable!

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


Sunday 16th September

This week’s blog from Scottish Racing takes a look at:

  • William Hill Ayr Gold Cup Festival – Thursday 20th to Saturday 22nd
  • Kelso – Wednesday 19th

A decision on whether Johnny Murtagh’s Urban Beat runs in Saturday’s £200,000 William Hill Ayr Gold Cup will be made after the three-year-old runs in the opening Irish Stallion Studs Bold Lad Premier Handicap at the Curragh this afternoon (Sunday).

Unbeaten this season in three runs the colt is currently ante post favourite with the sponsors for the race and his trainer will make the call by Tuesday morning. His most recent run earlier this month saw him win rather cosily at the Curragh albeit in a race far less competitive than Saturday’s Ayr contest.

If he does win, Urban Beat will become the first ever Irish trained horse to lift Scotland’s most valuable Flat race.

But he will have to prove himself in a field that will be full of highly rated experience sprinters including Richard Fahey’s Growl, second in the race in 2016 to Brando, who has been running well in good company all season.

Another horse who has attracted support is Dean Ivory’s Flaming Spear who has been doing most of his running over seven furlongs but shouldn’t find the drop back to six on easy ground an inconvenience.

Tim Easterby, enjoying one of his best ever seasons, saddles Flying Pursuit who runs in the colours of the Ontoawinner Syndicate who owned the brilliant filly Quiet Reflection who won the Harry Rosebery Stakes at this meeting in 2015 before going on to Group success.

Flying Pursuit won the Sky Bet Dash at York at the end of July and will come to Ayr with high hopes of a big run.

Another Easterby with a live chance in the race is Mick who saddles Perfect Pasture who won the Cammidge Trophy Listed Race at Doncaster in March but has raced only once since as he waits to get the softer ground he likes.

There is more than £750,000 in prize-money over the three days of the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup Festival which starts on Thursday with Doonside Cup Day named after the Listed race which is the feature of the opening day.

The £65,000 William Hill Doonside Cup has 21 entries headed by Ralph Becket’s five-time Group race winner Air Pilot.

Godolphin have won this race five times since 2004 and go for win number six with the fast-improving Dubai Horizon, trained by Saeed bin Suroor.

The four-year-old won a Class 3 handicap at Ayr in July and followed that up with victory in a Class 2 at Sandown early this month.

Other Festival highlights include Scotland’s only Group race the £65,000 William Hill Firth of Clyde Stakes on Saturday, Friday’s two Listed races – the Shadwell Stud/EBF Stallions Harry Rosebery Stakes and the Al Maktoum Cup Arran Scottish Fillies Stakes, both with £50,000 on offer.

And, of course, the William Hill Ayr Silver Cup is run on Saturday and the Bronze Cup on Friday which is William Hill Ladies’ Day and features the final of the Best Dressed Ladies competition which carries some fantastic prizes including a five day trip for two to New York.

It’s good to welcome Kelso back as the Borders track emerges from summer hibernation with a twilight card on Wednesday.

I see there are entries from Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales and the action is set to get underway at 4.10pm.

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



9th September 2018

Gordon Elliott could take Perth by storm yet again on Monday as the Irish maestro has pencilled in an incredible 34 entries at the Scone track’s third last meeting of 2019.

He has seven horses alone entered in the feature contest, the £25,000 Sodexo Prestige Venues And Events Killiecrankie Handicap Chase, and they include recent course hurdles winner Rightdownthemiddle.

Elliott was on course last month to personally saddle five winners on a memorable Saturday afternoon when his nap hand was responsible for triple-champion jockey Richard Johnson riding his first five-timer.

It was at Perth, back in June 2006, that Gordon recorded his very first winner courtesy of Arresting, ridden by that man Johnson.

Since then he has become one of the leading jumps trainers in the modern era with a Cheltenham Gold Cup and two Grand Nationals to his name.

Dan Skelton, Charlie Longsdon, Kim Bailey, Peter Bowen and Philip Hobbs are just a few of the other big name handler with entries.

ITV Racing’s top presenters are heading to Ayr Racecourse to cover Scotland’s flagship Flat meeting the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup Festival on Saturday September 22.

Lead presenter Ed Chamberlin will head the team who will screen four races live from the track on the day including the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup and Scotland’s only Group race the William Hill Firth of Clyde Stakes.

Among those joining Ed will be former jockey Jason Weaver who recorded two notable Ayr wins during his riding career on Key To My Heart in the 1996 Doonside Cup and on Monkston Point in the 1998 Firth of Clyde Stakes.

Francesca Cumani will also join Ed and Jason in the Parade Ring while Rishi Persad, Matt Chapman and Kevin Blake will be out and about on course and Richard Hoiles will be commentating on the action.

There will be more than £720,000 in prize-money across the three days of the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup with the Gold Cup itself having a prize fund of £200,000.

The action begins with Doonside Cup Day on the Thursday featuring the £65,000 William Hill Ayr Doonside Cup a Listed Race, Friday is Ladies Day with two £50,000 Listed races – the Shadwell Stud/EBF Stallions Harry Rosebery Stakes and the Al Maktoum Cup Arran Scottish Fillies’ Stakes Tickets are selling well for all three days and for more information or to book online visit www.ayrgoldcup.co.ukor call 01292- 264179.




3rd September 2018

I’m delighted to report that Scotland has two entries in ‘The Race That Stops A Nation’.

Last year Nakeeta proudly flew the Lion Rampant in the Melbourne Cup when a gallant fifth and this time Jim Goldie’s Sir Chauvelin is listed among a huge initial overseas raiding party of 50.

The total entry for the Lexus-sponsored event on November 6th is 183, way up on last year’s 140 and miles above the original entry of 124 for the 2016 renewal.

A crucial date for both tartan entries will be September 11th as that’s when the weights are announced for the marathon which carries a massive $7.3m in prize money.

And speaking to Nakeeta’s trainer Iain Jardine at Musselburgh on Wednesday he wasn’t confident of his charge getting in a two-mile handicap that is getting classier year by year.

That being the case connections of Sir Chauvelin will be in the same predicament as both Scottish horses are currently rated 106.

What excitement there would be if they slipped into the bottom of the weights.

Keith Dalgleish and Linda Perratt has been been among the winners lately.

Both were in the winners’ enclosure on Wednesday and Thursday at Musselburgh this week.

Linda’s winners were partnered by the excellent Ben Robinson who is a much-improved young jockey over the past few months.

And Keith, always a man looking to the future, was at the sales where he was buying yearlings which will be the source of next year’s two-year-old crop at his jam-packed Carluke stable.

We’re into September now which is one of the busiest north of the border with twelve meetings as every one of our tracks stages at least one fixture.

Kelso emerges from its traditional summer hibernation and, of course, it also features the three-day William Hill Ayr Gold Cup Festival.

For even more value for money there is a ‘Scottish Racing Season Ticket’ available to Racing UK members which features free admission to all the above meetings.

More details on RacingUK.com/ScottishSeasonTicket


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




26th August 2018

SCOTTISH apprentices are certainly proudly flying the flag for their home nation at the moment.

Jamie Gormley, Nicola Currie and Paula Muir are just three with tartan roots that been among the winners lately.

And they all hail from different parts of Scotland – Jamie is from Langholm, Paula is a Lanarkshire lass while Nicola is originally from Arran!

I hear the new paddock lay-out at Kelso is taking shape as the countdown continues to the first meeting of the backend at the borders venue on September 19th.

With tiered stepping around the rails, there should be plenty of space for more racegoers to see the horses which is always a must for the appreciative audience that tends to flock to ‘The Friendly Course’.

Also new is the winners’ enclosure, now contained – like so many others these days – within the parade rings itself.

Room for the development has been achieved by the demolishing of a Tote building and the levelling of the slope between the old paddock and grandstand.

Another change for the new season at Kelso is that only one enclosure will be operating as the barriers between paddock and members areas have been removed to create more space and better accessibility as well as more friendly and welcoming environment for all.

As a follow-on from Scottish Racing’s support of Scotland’s Dementia Awareness Week in June this year alongside the charity Alzheimer Scotland, a first ‘Dementia Friends’ information session has been held at Hamilton Park Racecourse with staff taking part.

Richard Lyle MSP attended the information sharing day as a supporter of the Alzheimer Scotland partnership. Mr Lyle sits on the Cross-Party Group on Scottish Racing and Bloodstock Industries at which Racing Together’s Eleanor Boden provided an update on community activity taking place across Scotland.

Scottish Racing has embraced the work of Alzheimer Scotland and has committed to stage Dementia Friends information sessions at all its courses. The sessions are interactive and will enable racecourse staff to increase their understanding of dementia. Dementia Friends outlines the small ways in which everyone can help support those living with the illness and their families.

With over 90,000 people living with dementia in Scotland and the number on the rise, the work at Hamilton Park is the first step in a new partnership between Scotland’s national dementia charity and Scottish Racing.

If you have any questions about dementia and of the services available in your area call Alzheimer Scotland’s 24 Dementia Helpline on 0808 808 3000 or visit the website at www.alzscot.org.

Finally this week, huge congratulations to Mark Johnston on becoming the winning-most trainer in British history.

His landmark 4,194th success came at York on Thursday and for the record he’s saddled a total of 536 winners in Scotland including one over hurdles.

And, as a director at Hamilton Park, it is fitting that the 236 victories he has enjoyed at the track is the most he has recorded at any UK turf venue.

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


SCOTTISH COLUMN – 18th August 2018


By Gordon Brown


A SURE sign that autumn is approaching was the publication of the William Ayr Gold Cup entries a few days ago.

The 6f dash, carrying £200,000 in prize money, has attracted 214 speedsters including this year’s Wokingham Handicap hero Bacchus.

Brian Meehan’s four year-old’s two subsequent runs have come in Group company, he finished fourth in the Group 3 Hackwood Stakes at Newbury last month before finishing down the field in the Group 1 Maurice de Gheest at Deauville 10 days ago.

Such is the stature of this year’s race that 36 of the horses are rated 100 or higher. A field of 25 will go to post for the race with the next 25 highest rated running in the £60,000 William Hill Ayr Silver Cup and the following 25 competing in the £30,000 William Hill Ayr Bronze Cup. The Gold and Silver races are run on Saturday September 22 with the Bronze Cup run on the Friday.

Mark Johnston’s Cardsharp is one of several leading three year-olds with entries and others include Roger Varian’s Laugh A Minute who won the £300,000 Weatherbys Racing Bank two year-old conditions race at Doncaster last year.

Richard Fahey, who trained the last three year-old winner of the race in Don’t Touch in 2015, has Growl, second in the race in 2016 to Brando, Listed race winner Kimberella and George Bowen among his 27 entries.

Brando’s trainer Kevin Ryan who has sent out four winners of the race has some interesting entries including Hey Jonesy, fifth in the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot in June and Major Jumbo who chased Kimberalla home in a Listed race at Chester earlier this month.

Joint favourites at 12/1 are Mankib, annex French four year-old trained by Willie Haggas who has won his last two starts and Urban Beat, a three year old trained by Johnny Murtagh and who is unbeaten in his two starts this season.

The draw for this year’s William Hill Ayr Gold Cup takes place in the Owners Bar at Ayr Racecourse at 11.00am on Thursday September 20 and will be screened live on Racing UK.

Next action in Scotland is on Tuesday at Hamilton Park with the Lanarkshire track still basking in the glory of a much-deserved five-star award from @VisitScotland, Scotland’s National Tourist Board.

It is Scottish Trophy Raceday and there are massive entries including in the feature race, which is over 1m 1f for horses rated 0-90.


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




12th August 2018

THE fabulous 142/1 Glorious Goodwood double enjoyed by Jim Goldie represented a welcome change of luck for the Uplawmoor trainer.

Although he struck with Euchen Glen in the John Smith’s Cup at York, the William Johnstone’s home-bred gelding was injured in the process and is expected to be sidelined for a lengthy period.

Then, just six days later, Great Fighter also suffered a serious setback when favourite for a staying handicap at Musselburgh.

Jimmy Fyffe’s eight-year-old has been a terrific servant as he has won three times over hurdles to add to his three strikes on the Flat.

So it was tremendous to see ‘jolly Jim’ all smiles in the Goodwood winners’ enclosure last Saturday after his quick-fire double courtesy of Tommy G and Sir Chauvelin, the latter of whom was showing that his gallant third in the Northumberland Plate was no fluke.

New colours were unveiled on the jockey statuette situated near the paddock at Hamilton Park last Saturday night.

The silks change correspond to the owner who lands the Glasgow Stakes at the Lanarkshire track so the minor rider now sports the light blue and orange epaulettes representing Middleham Park, the proud owners of this year’s impressive victor Raymond Tusk.

Previous scorers have done the initiative proud and last year’s winner Defoe, trained by Roger Varian for Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum, went on to run in the St Leger.

By this time next week Mark Johnston is likely to be the winning-most trainer in British history.

The record tally he is aiming for is the 4,194 winners (Flat and jumps in Britain) saddled by Richard Hannon senior before he retired.

Aberfoyle-born Mark’s first winner was Hinari Televideo at Carlisle in 1987.

There are massive entries for Ayr tomorrow when the feature race is the £14,000 Ayrshire cancer Support James Bond Ball Handicap over 1m 2f.

And all roads lead to Perth on Saturday for Summer Carnival day when a huge crowd is usually in attendance for quality racing and musical entertainment supplied by Sambayamba and Shaka Loves You.

The most valuable prize on offer is the £30,000 Stone Of Destiny Handicap Hurdle over two miles.

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


5th August 2018

A charity is on to a real winner with Ayr Racecourse donating all admission money from their evening meeting on Tuesday to Ayrshire Cancer Support.

The charity will receive all of the £15 per person ticket fee from the racenight named in their honour as part of the ongoing partnership between the course and Ayrshire Cancer Support.

Sandra McCall, Chief Executive of ACS, said : “It’s an honour and a privilege for our organisation to be recognised as Ayr Racecourse and Western House’s official charity partner and we are delighted, on behalf of every person in Ayrshire affected by cancer, to be the recipient of vital funds, raised on evenings such Tuesday, to deliver services throughout Ayrshire.

“Ayrshire Cancer Support provide patient transport services, taking people diagnosed with cancer, to life saving hospital appointments for treatment. We also provide mental health support as well as complimentary therapies from our two centres in Ayr and Kilmarnock as well as providing support in Ayrshire hospitals.

“Without donations from the public, many people simply would not be able to access the treatment they need.”

David Brown, Managing Director of Ayr Racecourse, said : “I am delighted to say all ticket monies from the racenight will go directly to the charity. This is the latest fundraiser as part of our partnership with Ayrshire Cancer Support and we are hoping for a big turnout so we can raise a substantial amount of money .”

Ayr also races on Saturday evening when QTS Ladies Night features lots of action both on course and off course with seven races, heats for Ayr’s legendary Ladies Day competition – the final is on September 21 – and a live DJ set from Packy Lee aka Johnny Dogs from Peaky Blinders and performances from former X Factor winner Ben Haenow.

The opening race on the card is the QTS Women in Engineering Handicap for professional and amateur lady riders due off at 5.35pm. The feature race is the QTS Ladies’ Night Grand Spectacular Handicap over five furlongs.

Meanwhile Grade 2 bumper winner Portrush Ted made a pleasing debut over obstacles in the Murrayshall Hotel And Golf Courses Novices’ Hurdle at Perth on Wednesday.

The Warren Greatrex raider, sent off the 2/9 favourite, led after three out before strolling home 17-lengths clear of Motueka who lost a lot of ground when whipping round at the start.

Winning jockey Adrian Heskin reckons he is an above-average staying novice for this time of year and I tend to agree with him.

It was sad to hear that Sparky Gayle, who gained a memorable triumph in the 1997 Cathcart Challenge Cup Chase, has been put down at the age of 28.

Trained in Dumfriesshire by the late Colin Parker and ridden by Brian Storey, he stormed up the Cheltenham hill to beat fellow borders raider Major Bell by four lengths.

He followed up a month later in the Future Champions Novices’ Chase at Ayr and won twelve of his 39 starts for his East Lothian owners Ray and Anita Anderson Green.





29th July 2018

This week’s blog from Scottish Racing highlights:

  • Scottish jockeys in line to take the Stobart Apprentice Title
  • A fourth Scottish Stewards’ Cup for Richard Fahey
  • George Bowen aiming for William Hill Ayr Gold Cup.


The recent move by David Egan to take out a full professional licence has blown this year’s apprentice title race wide-open which is good news for Scots rookies Jamie Gormley and Nicola Currie.

Last year’s champion, the son of jockey John Egan, rode out his claim in June and has decided to concentrate on bigger targets supported by his principal trainer Roger Varian.

It all leaves thing very tight at the head of the table with little between Jason Watson, Rossa Ryan and Langholm-born Gormley who saw his allowance reduced at 3lb at Hamilton Park earlier this summer.

Not that far off the pace, with a total in the mid-teens, is Currie, who hails from the Isle Of Arran. Nicola started in racing with Lucinda Russell, but her light-weight always meant she was destined for a career on the Flat.

There were a couple of stand-out performances at Hamilton Park’s mid-Fair Friday fixture last week.

George Bowen smashed the long standing 6f course record on his way to giving Richard Fahey a fourth win in the Scottish Stewards’ Cup.

Ridden by Sebastian Woods, the 9/2 chance scorched home two and a three-quarter lengths clear of last year’s hero Classic Seniority in the £34,000 dash to set a new best time of 1.09.03.

Woods, enjoying the biggest success of his career, told me that George Bowen is a fast-improving sprinter and connections are already eyeing the Ayr Gold Cup.

Incidentally the old course record of 1.09.30 was set back in July 1974 by Marcus Game.

Raymond Tusk is being targeted at September’s St Leger after his victory in the Listed British Stallion Studs EBF Glasgow Stakes.

Trained by Richard Hannon, the 7/4 favourite was given a patient ride by Phillip Makin on his way to beating Austrian School by two and a half lengths.

Makin was impressed by his partner and predicted he could turn out to be very useful.

It’s another busy week in Scotland as Ayr race again on Monday followed by a two-day meeting at Perth on Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon.

There is also evening action on Friday at Musselburgh and Saturday at Hamilton Park when a massive crowd is expected for @EKEast Kilbride Ladies Night which features Callum Best as celebrity judge for the Best Dressed Lady competition.

The Lanarkshire venue was recently awarded a five-star rating from Visit Scotland for outstanding standards and customer experience.

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






This week’s blog from Scottish Racing takes a look at:

  • Racing at Hamilton Park on Thursday 19th
  • Euchen Glen being ruled out of the Ebor


There has been some terrific action in Scotland lately and I was really impressed by the performance of Space Traveller at Hamilton Park on Thursday.

Danny Tudhope told me afterwards he is as good a two-year-old as he’s ever ridden and highlighted next month’s Gimcrack Stakes at York as his next target.

That leap into the same Group 2 company from winning at the Lanarkshire track has been done before as I recall Sonnen Gold landing the 1979 Gimcrack after scoring at Hamilton Park for the late Edinburgh owner Pat Muldoon.

Pat’s famous tartan colours were carried by some real superstars on the Flat and over jumps, notably of course his dual-Champion Hurdler Sea Pigeon who won an amateur contest at Hamilton Park in 1980 under his son Steven.

Jimmy Long’s Partick Thistle silks were also on the mark for the first time at his favourite track whenZig Zag Zyggy was an easy winner under Rowan Scott.

It was also the first success for new Thistle Bloodstock trainer Robbie Osborne who took over from Pat Shanahan in the spring.

There was a sting in the tail for Jim Goldie just 48 hours after Euchen Glen gained a memorable 20/1success in last Saturday’s John Smith’s Cup at York.

The five-year-old, owned and bred by co-Ayr racecourse owner William Johnstone, was found to have suffered a tendon injury that could rule him out of action for up to 18 months.

Bearing in mind that Euchen Glen was being aimed at the Ebor, full marks must go to connections for releasing the news to the public that there was a problem even before the results of a scan were known.

Racing in Scotland this week continues at Ayr tomorrow and Musselburgh on Tuesday.

I’m anticipating the Goldie and Keith Dalgleish yards to be among the winners as both are currently in flying form at the moment.

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


13th July

How very modern of us – here’s our Gordon with the very first video blog!

8th July

A busy spell in Scotland continues with a two-day fixture staged at Ayr today and tomorrow.

Ayr kicks off an incredibly busy July with Argyll Holidays Family Raceday this afternoon.

The feature contest on the eight race card is the Argyll Holidays : Why Go Further?  Handicap over a mile and this Class 3 race sees Newmarket trainer John Butler saddle his first ever runner at the track in Windsor Beach.

The main supporting race is the Holiday Homes to Own or Rent Handicap over one mile two furlongs in which recent course winner Glasses Up runs for trainer Mike Smith with Paddy Mathers taking the mount.

The one mile two furlong Create Great Family Memories Together Handicap has split into two divisions and Division 1 due off at 2.30pm sees Northern Ireland based Lee Smyth send Lucky Red, second at Don Royal last time out, over with former two time champion jockey Paul Hanagan taking the ride for his only mount of the day.

Some of the entertainment on the day includes magical mayhem, petting zoo, owl magic, facepainting, circus skills and fun fair rides.

There is also the Ayrshire Cancer Support Charity Mascot Race which is sponsored by Grant’s of Prestwick!

This will see a host of characters racing to be the champion, the race is due off at approximately 12.55 pm.

Earlier in the week there were two days of decent fare at Hamilton Park with Musselburgh and Perth also enjoying a slice of the action.

I hear work has recently started on the Lanarkshire track’s new £10m Hampton by Hilton Hamilton Park hotel.

The complex will feature 118 rooms and is being built on land previously used as a car park. It is expected to be open to the public by the summer of next year.

Up to 20 new jobs, double the number of permanent employees at the track, will be created and – based on an independent economic impact study – the hotel will generate an additional £5.9m per annum in visitor expenditure.

A feature of the card at Hamilton Park on Monday night was Jamie Gormley riding out his 5lb allowance on I Believe In You.

The juvenile, who stormed to an all-the-way success, is trained by Langholm-born Jamie’s boss Iain Jardine and he looks a very smart prospect.

Hamilton Park have coped really well with the scorching conditions and the course races again on Saturday night.

It was nice to see Perth reward the unsung heroes of the game on Racing Welfare Racing Staff Week. Every winning groom on the seven-race card was given a luxury hamper containing lots of goodies including Irn Bru!

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



It was great to catch up with rugby legend Gavin Hastings at Hamilton Park on Thursday night where he was operating in his role as chairman of the Saints & Sinners Club Of Scotland.

Gavin admitted that he doesn’t get to go racing more than a handful of times a year, but he was most complementary on the way things are staged compared to other major sporting events he has attended.

He revealed that last year the S & S club donated a record £142,000 to the less fortunate north of the border through smaller charities and it is occasions like the annual race meeting that helps to generate that sort of cash.

Having survived a record-breaking and scorching evening it is a quick turnaround for the Lanarkshire track as its hosts a two-day meeting tomorrow (Monday) night and Tuesday afternoon.

Well done to Hamilton racing manager and clerk of the course Sulekha Varma and her team for overseeing the welfare of the horses in such sweltering conditions.

The temperature at the weather station on the track recorded 31.59c at 5pm on the day of racing which fully justified the runners being unsaddled and washed down in the more cooler and shaded surroundings of the pre-parade ring area.

A busy week in Scotland sees action also at Musselburgh on Wednesday, Perth on Thursday and Ayr on Sunday.

Under 18s Race Free

Did you know, under 18s race FREE at all 5 of the Scottish racecourses? With the Scottish school holidays just started, why not book one of our Family Days?

Sunday 8th July – Ayr

Saturday 14th July – Hamilton Park

Sunday 15th July – Perth

Monday 16th July – Ayr

Tuesday 24th July – Musselburgh

Come along and have a fun, family day out!

Visit www.scottishracing.co.uk/racecourses/family-days/


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



24th June

All roads lead to Hamilton Park this week for the annual Saints & Sinners meeting on Thursday night.

First staged in 1965, the fixture is a terrific night of fun, fashion and quality racing that has raised around £2m for small Scottish charities.

The Lanarkshire track has looked in tremendous shape this term and, for once, all bar one meeting has been blessed with good weather.

A tremendous card is in prospect and a feature of the evening is seeing punters choosing whether to sport a white carnation for a saint or a red one for a sinner!

There is also is a prize for the ever-popular best-dressed couple competition plus an after-racing concert by the Cavern Beatles playing an incredible set of the iconic band’s greatest hits.

Back in 1989 I recall the Princess Royal riding in the opening amateur riders’ handicap when she finished a one-length runner-up to Quinlan Terry, partnered by Tim Easterby who is now a successful trainer.

I had a catch up with former trainer Ian Semple at Hamilton Park last Wednesday and he was telling he is helping out at Linda Perratt’s East Kilbride yard.

Ian knows a couple of new owners and I reckon Linda’s horses are of the cusp of hitting peak form.

Keith Dalgleish, now in the Carluke yard formerly occupied by Ian, was down at Royal Ascot on Wednesday to see What’s The Story run a mighty race in fourth place in the Royal Hunt Cup.

Despite being bumped about a furlong from home Fran Berry still managed to finish just three lengths behind the winner Settle For Bay on the 33/1 Scottish raider.

Under 18s Race Free

Did you know, under 18s race FREE at all 5 of the Scottish racecourses? With the Scottish school holidays about to start, why not book one of our Family Days?

Sunday 8th July – Ayr

Saturday 14th July – Hamilton Park

Sunday 15th July – Perth

Monday 16th July – Ayr

Tuesday 24th July – Musselburgh

Come along and have a fun, family day out!

Visit www.scottishracing.co.uk/racecourses/family-days/

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



17th June

A very busy week at Ayr is in store this week with three meetings – June Raceday on Monday 18th  the Ayrshire Magazine  Noughties Night on Friday 22nd and Saturday’s Scottish Sun Raceday.

There are seven races on the Monday beginning with what looks like a tricky EBF Novice Auction Stakes over six furlongs where several top stables are represented. Kevin Ryan, Mark Johnston, Richard Fahey, Karl Burke and Keith Dalgleish all have runners.

The feature race is the Volunteer To Help Ayrshire Cancer Support Handicap over five furlongs at 3.35pm where Jim Goldie saddles recent Newcastle winner Primo’s Comet with Barry McHugh taking the mount.

Friday’s action kicks off at 5.55 pm with a one mile two furlong handicap for amateur riders and this was won last year by Haymarket trained by Mike Smith and ridden by Carol Bartley.

The evening’s feature is a Class 3 six furlong handicap at 8.10pm which will attract a big field of runners.

Saturday’s meeting carries £170,000 in prize-money and is headlined by the £50,000 Scottish Sun/British Stallion Studs EBF Land O’Burns Fillies Stakes, Listed Race over five furlongs.

This race has been won over the years by a host of lightening quick fillies including Airwave (2004), Look Busy (2008), Margot Did (2011) and Marsha (2016) who went on to win the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes at York and fetched a record breaking £6.3m at the sales last December

There’s a brand new addition to the card this year in the £40,000 Scottish Sun Handicap, a Class 2 over one mile five furlongs. There is also a £30,000 Class 2 mile handicap for the Johnstone Rosebowl and the action is expected to attract a crowd of around 8,000.

Perth also race on Saturday 23rd when the feature event on a brand new fixture is a three-mile and chip chase worth over £21,000.

The first of seven races gets underway at 2pm and the meeting has been secured for the next three years.

It was great see Judy Murray enjoying a day at the races at Musselburgh last Saturday.

Judy was in a private box with her family and friends and she was invited by Edinburgh Gin to present the prizes to winning connections of Scottish Sprint Cup hero Caspian Prince.

In an interview afterwards she told the assembled crowd how she hoped son Andy, who has undergone surgery for a hip injury, would be back in action in time for Wimbledon.


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Sunday 10th June 2018

David Elsworth, best known for his exploits with legendary chaser Desert Orchid, enjoyed success with his first-ever runner at Hamilton Park on Wednesday.

Now based in Newmarket, ‘Elsie’, struck with Sir Dancelot in the conditions stakes which was re-scheduled from September.

“I’ve got quite a good record at Musselburgh but I’d never had a runner before at Hamilton,” he told me. “The owners flew up and said they had a great time and that the paddock reminded them of Longchamp!”

On a more serious note, Elsworth added that Sir Dancealot is now heading for Royal Ascot where he is set to tackle the Diamond Jubilee Stakes.

It was also great to see Andrea Atzeni rock up at the Lanarkshire venue where his only ride, Laugh A Minute, was an unlucky third to Sir Dancealot.

Andrea, who hopes to be re-united with Laugh A Minute in Royal Ascot’s Commonwealth Cup, was last at Hamilton Park to ride multiple Group 1 hero Postponed to victory in the 2014 Glasgow Stakes.

BHA chief operating officer Richard Wayman was also an interesting visitor on Wednesday and he too was impressed with the surroundings.

Richard was one of those responsible for the introduction of ‘optional claiming handicaps’ which start a ten race trial at Yarmouth next month. None of the races are due to be staged in Scotland, but it will be interesting to see how the initiative goes.

Start a FREE ONE MONTH TRIAL of Racing UK today!

During your free one month trial you can enjoy:

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  • Unrivalled coverage from Royal Ascot, the Coral-Eclipse and the Moët & Chandon July Festival and much more
  • Watch on TV, tablet and mobile • Glorious HD coverage on Sky 426
  • No Sky, no problem – also available on YouView, BT TV, Talk Talk TV and Plusnet TV But hurry – there are only 2,000 trials up for grabs, so don’t miss out!

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


Sunday 3rd June

Ayr Racecourse has been voted Sports Venue of the Year at the third 2018 Scottish Hospitality Awards held on Tuesday at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Glasgow.

The finalists in the category included Hampden Park, Celtic Park, Ibrox Park, Hamilton Racecourse and Murrayfield Stadium. It is the second occasion the Racecourse won the honour having been crowned the first ever winner back in 2016.

The aim of the awards is to acknowledge the success of local professionals and establishments from restaurants and hotels to festivals and venues. The winners are chosen by members of the general public and reflect the high standard and customer service of the Scottish hospitality industry.

Ayr Racecourse and Western House Hotel Managing Director David Brown commented : “It is a huge honour to receive these two prestigious awards.

“Being voted Sports Venue of the Year is a tremendous achievement for the Racecourse team when you consider the major sporting venues there are in Scotland.

“We are proud that the Racecourse has recognised in this way.”

At the same awards ceremony Ayr Racecourse’s Western House Hotel was crowned Hotel of the Year after first winning the regional category for the south west.

Persistence paid off for the connections of Jessie Allan as Jim Goldie’s mare shed her maiden tag at the 41st time of asking at Redcar earlier this week.

The mare was carrying the colours of Clarkston owner as she also supplied 21-year-old stable amateur Corey Madden with his first strike on just his fifth ride.

Goldie’s Uplawmoor stable is in decent nick as it also struck with Theglasgowwarrior in the feature race at Hamilton Park on Thursday. Jolly Jim has high hopes of the winner who is heading for Musselburgh on Saturday before a tilt at Carlisle’s Cumberland Plate later in the month.

History is made at Perth on Sunday 3rd June when the Scone track stages the most valuable card in its long history.

And, at £40,000, the Energy Check City Of Perth Gold Cup is the richest-ever race run at the venue with the meeting worth a total of £106,000.

Finally this week apprentice jockey Paula Muir returned to her roots to ride a winner on Duck Egg Blue at Hamilton Park.

Lanarkshire-born Paula is based with Darlington trainer Michael Dods and she has now partnered four winners in 2018, just four shy of her best tally which was achieved last term.

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


Sunday 20th May

Flat racing returns to Ayr with a two day meeting – May Raceday on Tuesday and Tennent’s Raceday on Wednesday.

Tuesday’s highlight is the Class 3 Conferences at Ayr Racecourse Handicap over six furlongs at 4.10pm.

Course specialist Dark Defender, winner of three races at the track for Keith Dalgleish, will be fancied in this and will be the mount of stable apprentice Rowan Scott.

The afternoon concludes with the Book Now For The Scottish Sun Raceday Handicap, over one mile five furlongs, for lady amateur riders and Carol Bartley, one of the top female jockeys, rides the Dalgleish trained Eyreborn.

There is more than £100,000 in prize-money on offer on Wednesday with the highlight the £50,000 Tennent’s British Stallion Studs EBF Rothesay Stakes, a Listed race which was first introduced in 2016.

Nezwaah, one of the best fillies ever to run at Ayr, took the prize last year providing a first course win for talented jockey Andrea Atzeni.  The partnership went on to win the Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh.

This year’s renewal sees up and coming Newmarket based trainer Archie Watson having only his third runner at the track with Snowy Winter, the mount of Danny Tudhope, and with the stable in such good form she could be a player.

Others to catch the eye are Kevin Ryan’s Company Asset, a filly who has decent form in the book, and Mark Johnston’s Titi Mafki who won a Listed contest at Kempton back in November.

The main supporting race the five furlong Guinness Handicap where Iain Jardine saddles Mayleaf Shine with Jimmy Sullivan riding and Powerallied carries the Dr Marwan Koukash colours with Pail Hanagan in the plate for trainer Richard Fahey.

After Ayr the next action in Scotland comes at Kelso on Sunday when there is a fabulous Ladies Day card.

It’s always one of the biggest crowds of the year at the borders track and there are prizes for the best dressed lady and best dressed couple.

Kelso was really unlucky with the weather last season with both Borders National and Premier Hurdle and Chase days being abandoned.

Sunday is the last meeting of the spring at Kelso and during the summer I hear plans are afoot to relocate the paddock and winners’ enclosure. All will be revealed when the track emerges from hibernation on September 19th.

I was sad to hear of the recent death of the former Kelso chairman David Thomson at the age of 89.

David, the father of Berwickshire trainer Sandy Thomson, was chairman at his local track for 18 years and his distinctive voice was heard on the microphone doing the post-race presentations.

It was David’s father, Sandy’s grandfather, who bred – and then sold – MacMoffat who was runner-up in the Grand National in both 1939 and 1940.

David himself landed the first running of the Greenall Whitley Chase at Haydock in 1968 with Half Awake and also landed the 1969 Lanark Silver Bell with Shanghai.

The 2018 Flat season on Racing UK is their biggest yet. With complete coverage from 23 of the UK’s best Flat racecourses there really is only one place to be for the Flat season.

Plus, with a Racing UK membership you get so much more than every race live from the UK’s best Flat racecourses – you can enjoy 100 free race days, watch on TV, tablet and mobile and take advantage of their exclusive racecourse offers.

Make Racing UK your home for the 2018 Flat season by joining now.

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Sunday 13th May

There was good news emerging from Musselburgh this week as the course’s licence was been extended to the end of its turf season in October by the BHA.

The ruling body also staged the latest of its ‘Roadshow’ events at the East Lothian venue on Friday and it gave owners and trainers north of the border a chance to hear from the ruling body and air their own views on various topics.

I also hear that Musselburgh have a new sponsor for the £100,000 Scottish Sprint Cup which is staged on Saturday 9th June.

Following the departure of William Hill after their contract came to an end, Edinburgh Gin have stepped in with a three-year deal to back the prestigious handicap run over one of the fastest 5f tracks in the UK.

The big dash is the feature on a seven-race card worth £160,000 when there is a consolation for the main event with ITV Racing covering the sprint and its little brother.

Billed as the ‘fastest race in Scotland’, a new course record was set three years ago when Eric Alston-trained Red Baron scorched home to stop the clock at a blistering 57.1sec.

Hamilton Park was buzzing last Sunday when a crowd of well over 6,000 enjoyed Family Day, the first of 18 meetings at the Lanarkshire track.

Mum, dads and kids and regular racegoers were in attendance on the afternoon with glorious weather seeing the leafy venue at its best.

The next action in Scotland takes places at Perth on Wednesday evening and Thursday afternoon which is looking like a sell-out for the ever-popular Ladies Day.

Ladies who dress to impress could be in with a chance to scoop the £2,000 prize in the Grand Lady Competition. 

The 2018 Flat season on Racing UK is their biggest yet! With complete coverage from 23 of the UK’s best Flat racecourses there really is only one place to be for the Flat season.

Plus, with a Racing UK membership you get so much more than every race live from the UK’s best Flat racecourses – you can enjoy 100 free race days, watch on TV, tablet and mobile and take advantage of their exclusive racecourse offers! Make Racing UK your home for the 2018 Flat season by joining now

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

Sunday 6th May

Hamilton Park starts its new £1.33million season with a real bang as the Lanarkshire track stages a cracking £98,000 seven-race Family Day card this afternoon (Sunday).

Two of the races, the £30,000 totesport.com Tangerine Trees Conditions Stakes and the £ 22,000 totesport.com Buttonhook Handicap, feature on ITV Racing.

In 2018 no individual race will be worth less than £5,400 and no fixture less than £52,800 which demonstrates the venue’s commitment to continually improving the quality of action on the track Pro winner of National Chef of Scotland Gary Maclean will be conducting three sizzling culinary demonstrations and the children will be kept entertained with bungee trampolines, human table football, pony rides and giant candy slides.

One of dishes Glasgow-born Gary has created was inspired by the diet of a racehorse! In a nod to the event the creation is hay smoked celeriac, with carrot caviar, parsnip crisps, carrot tuile and wheat grass dressing has been specially designed to suit the palates of humans whilst taking inspiration from equine taste buds.

Gary, who has designed the menu for visiting owners and trainers, will also be showcasing others dishes that got him through to the MasterChef Final.

The first of 18 days racing at Hamilton Park sees the unveiling of the course’s new-look hospitality boxes which have undergone a fabulous upgrade. It is phase two of a major refurbishment programme to match the high standards set throughout the rest of the grandstand last year.

2017 was an award-winning year for the course as its scooped the Owner’s Experience award at the annual RCA Showcase Awards as well as being named finalists in the Operational Excellence Awards.

It has also claimed the accolade of Best Small Racecourse in Scotland & the North by the Racegoers Club.

Chief executive Vivien Currie said: “We are eagerly awaiting the launch of our new season and our first fixture has the perfect ingredients for a great family day out.”

Ayr stages an additional jumps meeting tomorrow (Monday) to help make up for the loss of so many meetings due to the weather in late winter and early spring.

Trainers are clearly keen to get a run into their horses as the  entries are huge – a massive 44 have been pencilled in for the opening handicap hurdle alone.


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Sunday 29th April

Glasgow-born owner Jimmy Long has a new trainer as he has appointed Robbie Osborne to look after his sizeable string which is based in Ireland.

Jimmy, whose Thistle Bloodstock colours have represented the leading owner at Hamilton Park for the last three seasons, has switched to Osborne following the departure of Pat Shanahan.

The silks were carried by debutant Miles Christianus in the Derby Trial at Epsom this week in a bid to see if there was any Classic potential in the son of The Carbon Unit. Though well beaten in the end, the 150/1 chance is likely to win races when his sights are lowered.

Another Thistle Bloodstock horse I’ll be keeping an eye on is Carbon Dating who missed an engagement at Epsom due to the soft ground.

The winner of last year’s Queen’s Cup at Musselburgh he has spent the winter in Dubai where his last two starts were in Grade 3 company.

He was apparently strongly-fancied at Epsom and when the ground dries up he is worth a second look for a middle distance handicap.

The Stobart Northern Jump Jockeys Awards were handed out at last week’s Perth Festival with Brian Hughes taking the leading senior rider and Ross Chapman getting the prize for top conditional.

Ross, who is based with Iain Jardine, enjoyed a terrific 2017/18 campaign and his highlight came when riding a four-timer at Ayr in January. He had five mounts and his only loser saw him finish a narrow runner-up to champion jockey Richard Johnson.

A main contributor to the improvement shown by Ross has been the export tuition from his coach, recently retired Brian Harding.

The name of a horse called Arresting came up at Perth as Gavin Cromwell recalled who the gelding supplied both himself and Gordon Elliott with their first winner.

Arresting did it initially for Gavin at the Scone venue in May 2006 before opening Gordon’s account as a trainer just three weeks later!


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Sunday 22nd April

All roads lead to Perth this week for the three-day Perth festival which gets underway on Wednesday.

First staged in 1989, it is a meeting that has a wonderful mix of fun and games in a relaxed setting yet the racing is of a high standard and the prize money is tremendous.

It’s great to see the leading jumps owners, trainer and jockeys mixing together in the town afterwards and the whole week has a real party atmosphere.

This year’s race values at the festival are up a whopping 35% to almost £300,000 and in an historic moment in Perth’s long history, Thursday sees its richest ever card which is worth £103,000 – the first time a meeting has been worth six-figures.

And don’t just focus on favourites if you’re having a flutter – one of the winners on the middle day last year, was returned at 33/1 and paid 46/1 on the Tote!

History is made again on Friday with the three-mile £35,000 Fair Maid of Perth Chase for mares only which is sponsored by the Thoroughbred Breeders Association and the most valuable race ever staged at the course.

Our two runners in last week’s Grand National didn’t have any luck with Seeyouatmidnight coming home in 11th place, while Sam Coltherd was unseated when Captain Redbeard blundered at the Foinavon fence on the first circuit.

Sandy Thomson told me at Kelso on Monday that ‘Midnight’ will now have his summer holiday and then be prepared for the Becher Chase before having another crack at the National.

I was impressed by the performance of runaway winner Diamond Brig in Monday’s Buccleuch Cup.

Home-bred and trained by Wendy Hamilton, he was partnered to a 21-length victory by her youngest son Tom and the six-year-old gelding is for sale if the price is right.

Tom is currently based in Ireland where he is amateur with Joseph O’Brien and acts as an auctioneer with Goffs.

His older brother, Jamie, is a professional jump jockey riding for some of the top yards in the north, while dad Michael is a sheep farmer who, though busy lambing at the moment, is also a clerk of the scale for the BHA!

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


Sunday 15th April

History could be made at Ayr on Saturday 21st April, when the Paul Nicholls trained Vicente attempts to win three successive Coral Scottish Grand Nationals – a feat that was last achieved more than 100 years ago.

The nine year old who won Scotland’s richest horseracing prize in 2016 and 2017, ridden both times by Sam Twiston-Davies was set to run in the Randox Health Grand National at Aintree but was withdrawn as the rain poured down at the Liverpool track.

No horse has won three in a row since Couvrefeu 11 in 1911, 1912 and 1913 and that was when the race was held at Bogside near Irvine.

The £215,000 chase headlines two fantastic days of racing at the Festival with a total of more than £714,000 in prize-money on offer.

Given the status of the Scottish Grand National – it is the second richest jumps race run on a Saturday in the UK and the fourth biggest in terms of betting turnover –the line-up on Saturday in addition to Vicente will boast some high quality runners.

Nicky Henderson’s Gold Present was another horse to sidestep the Grand National and he looks set to head the weights if he runs at Ayr. Nigel Twiston-Davies saddled the second and third in last year’s race with Cogry and Benbens and both could line up again along with another horse from the yard – Ballyoptic who was fourth in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham last month.

Lucinda Russell has always rated Big River very highly and the eight year old who has never raced beyond three miles two furlongs will be a very interesting runner.

The main supporting race on Saturday is the £105,000 QTS Scottish Champion Hurdle where last year’s winner Chesterfield, from the Seamus Mullins yard is likely to run again and be in opposition to some highly rated horses including Alan King’s The Unit, the Nicky Henderson trained  Charlie Parcs and Keith Dalgleish’s Silver Concorde.

There’s a brand new chase on Saturday – the £100,000 Dawn Homes Novices’ Handicap Chase over three miles – a race which also could see runners from top trainers including Nicky Henderson, Warren Greatrex, Alan King and Nicky Richards.

Friday’s action is headed by the Hillhouse Quarry Handicap Chase, a Listed Race, with £50,000 on offer. Last year Two Taffs won this contest for trainer Dan Skelton and this year’s field is bound to include some quality horses.

The coral.co.uk Seafield Trophy Mares’ Handicap Hurdle race is Friday’s second richest race with £30,000 in the pot and there could be a Scottish winner in this with The Delray Munky from the Iain Jardine yard having been trained with this race in mind.

Saturday is a complete sell out but there are still tickets available for Friday which is Ladies Day.

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Friday 6th April

This time next week we will know the identity of the winner of the Randox Health Grand National and is it too much to hope for another Scottish trained success?

After the memorable triumph of One For Arthur twelve months ago all the very best wishes go to Captain Redbeard and Seeyouatmidnight representing the borders stables of Stuart Coltherd and Sandy Thomson and the main thing is that both horses come back safe and sound.

Stuart has already enjoyed success over the big fences as Tartan Snow landed the 2013 Fox Hunters’ Chase at 100/1 with Jamie Hamilton in the saddle.

And the Thomson family have an Aintree pedigree too as Sandy’s grandfather bred MacMoffatt who was runner-up in the 1939 and 1940 Grand Nationals.

Just a week after Aintree, all eyes will be focused on Ayr for the two-day Coral Scottish Grand National festival and SGN day has been sold out for ages.

Entries for the SGN and the Scottish Champion Hurdle came out recently and they included plenty of star names among the horses and the trainers.

Vicente, trained by Paul Nicholls, could attempt for a slice of history in the Ayr marathon by bidding to win the race for the third time on the bounce.

The last horse to land the race on three consecutive occasions was Couvrefeu II in 1911, 1912 and 1913 and Vicente is one of 78 entries in this year’s race.

Vicente first won the race in 2016 as a seven year-old and repeated the feat last year with Sam Twiston-Davies riding on both occasions.

Cogry and Benbens, both trained by Sam’s father Nigel, second and third in the race last year also hold entries for the £215,000 contest while Missed Approach, trained by Warren Greatrex and the winner of the Kim Muir at Cheltenham last month looks set for the Ayr feature.

Leading Irish trainer Gordon Elliott, who won the Irish Grand National earlier in the week with General Principle has entered Fagan, owned by Scottish businessman Ronnie Bartlett, and Folsom Blue.

Westcountry trainer Colin Tizzard, whose Native River recently won the Cheltenham Gold Cup, holds five entries including Sizing Codelco and Sizing Tennessee and Lucinda Russell will attempt to win her first ever Coral Scottish Grand National with the highly talented Big River.

Champion trainer Nicky Henderson has three entries with the most notable being Beware The Bear, fourth in the Ultima Handicap Chase at Cheltenham last month.

The main supporting contest on the day, the £105,000 QTS Scottish Champion Hurdle has attracted 49 entries with some very highly rated hurdlers among them.

Last year’s winner Chesterfield, from the Seamus Mullins yard, is set to defend his crown while the 2016 winner Ch’tibello trained by Dan Skelton also holds an entry, and others that take the eye include the Nicky Henderson trained Jenkins and Kevin Ryan’s progressive five year old Beyond The Clouds.

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




It’s the opening day of the 2018 Scottish Flat season at Musselburgh tomorrow, but there is still plenty of quality jumping to come starting with a terrific card at Kelso a week tomorrow.

As with Musselburgh, the ITVRacing cameras will be screening the action and the feature races are the £50,000 Liz Adam Memorial Handicap Chase and the Belhaven Best Handicap Hurdle and the Edinburgh Gin Handicap Hurdle both of which are worth £40,000.

Last year’s corresponding meeting saw wins for Lucinda Russell’s Big River and Venetia Williams-trained Yala Enki and both have enjoyed a decent amount of success since.

New Managing Director, Jonathan Garratt, has done a great job since moving to Kelso from Cartmel in the Summer and he has plans to move the paddock further down behind the old grandstand, along with plenty of other ideas to improve facilities at the ‘friendly course’.

Indeed hospitality at the popular Ladies’ Day season finale at the Borders track in late May is already a complete sell out.

It’s less than a fortnight to the Randox Health Grand National at Aintree and Sandy Thomson and Stuart Coltherd are both holding media days ahead of the big day.

Sandy reports Seeyouatmidnight in fine order after his belated seasonal reappearance (his first race since chasing home Big River at Kelso in March) at Newbury last Sunday while Captain Redbeard is the hope of all at Stuart’s Clarilawmuir Farm in the hills above Selkirk.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have tartan ribbons on the Grand National trophy once again after the memorable victory of One For Arthur last spring.

The next racing in Scotland is back at Musselburgh for another Flat meeting on Thursday 5th April with the centrepiece a £13,000 over 7f for horses rated 71-90.

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




GREAT news this week that Scotland is likely to have two runners in the £1m Randox Health Grand National on April 14th.

I was hosting the latest forfeit stage at Aintree on Tuesday when 73 horses stood their ground and the names of Seeyouatmignight and Captain Redbeard were among them.
Providing all goes well this weekend it is all systems go for Sandy Thomson’s Seeyouatmidnight while Stuart Coltherd-trained Captain Redbeard will be unlucky not to make the final field of 40 as he is currently number 43 on the list.

Speaking to senior BHA handicapper Phil Smith, who has compiled the weights for his final Grand National, he was sweet on both horses but actually gave his most favourable comment to Captain Redbeard who is still available at 100/1!

Just a week after Aintree the action moves on to Ayr for the Coral Grand National Festival and SGN day itself is completely sold out more than four weeks before the big race.

All Club badges were sold out last weekend and on Wednesday night Grandstand tickets followed suit.

A crowd of just over 17,000 will converge at the track for the second day of the two day Coral Scottish Grand National Festival.

This day features the £215,000 Coral Scottish Grand National and the £105,000 QTS Scottish Champion Hurdle along with a brand new £100,000 novices’ handicap chase.
This is the fourth successive year the Saturday of the Coral Scottish Grand National Festival has been sold out but it is by far the earliest.

There are still Club and Grandstand tickets available for the opening day of the Festival, Ladies Day when the winner of the Best Dressed Ladies Competition will win a prize including three night break to Rome.

The next racing in Scotland takes place at Musselburgh on Saturday when the Flat season opens with a bang north of the border.

A terrific card features the second renewal of the £100,000 Totepool Queen’s Cup over 1m 6f which was conceived for horses being campaigned at the likes of the Chester Cup, Northumberland Plate and Ebor.

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MORNING WITH IVAN has been in great form since her return to action after having a foal and she won again in the opener at Musselburgh on Friday.

Trained at Otterburn in Northumberland by Susan Corbett, the 9/2 chance slammed The Compeller by seven lengths under the trainer’s son James.

Mrs Corbett said: “It is quite rare for a mare to race again after having a foal but this is the second horse we have done it with. Her foal is now a handsome yearling colt and we’re hoping he will have a bright future.

“Morning With Ivan actually won when she carrying her foal too so she is quite remarkable as this is her third win of the season now. We might look and see if there is something for her at Aintree next month.”
Brian Hughes, leading jockey for the jumps season at Musselburgh completed a 77/1 with Nefyn Bay, Blunder Buss and Sporting Press.
WELL done to Hamilton Park for picking up a prestigious award from the Racegoers Club earlier this week.

The Lanarkshire track, where racing in 2018 gets underway on Sunday May 6th, was voted Best Racecourse in Scotland and the North by members of the Official Club of British Racegoers.

Hamilton Park executives would have been delighted to hear the Racegoers Club describe their venue as “a great racecourse with a friendly atmosphere and helpful staff.”

It was also announced recently that Hamilton Park and Musselburgh, along with Goodwood and York, are joining ‘The Silk Series’ in the coming Flat season.

Launched across nine different tracks in 2017, The Silk Series is a pioneering initiative that gives female jockeys opportunities on popular Summer racedays while also raising awareness for Cancer Research UK.

The final of the series is staged at Doncaster’s St Leger Festival and the trophy is named in honour of Meriel Tufnell, the first woman to ride a winner under rules in British racing in 1972.

Last year it was won by Megan Nicholls and Hollie Doyle will again again be the series’ ambassador.

The countdown to the 2018 Cheltenham Festival is nearly over and Racing UK have it completely covered! Here are some facts about Racing UK’s coverage of the most exciting four days in Jumps racing:

–              Racing UK is the only channel showing ALL 28 races live from the 2018 Cheltenham Festival.

–              Racing UK will broadcast 9.5 hours of live HD coverage every day starting at 10am from the course – that’s 38 hours in total!

–              Racing UK will be showing full race replays after racing each day so you can catch up on all the action after live racing.

–              Racing UK don’t interrupt their coverage with long ad breaks so you get even more insight and in-depth interviews with owners, trainers and jockeys.

What’s more, you can take The Festival with you wherever you are with racinguk.com as you can watch on TV, tablet and mobile – so you never need to miss a race or that all important preview or bit of analysis.

Racing UK really do have it all covered, so make sure you’re Cheltenham ready with complete coverage on Racing UK.  Join Racing UK and call 0845 111 64411 (UK) / 0818 776 779 (ROI) or join online by visiting racinguk.com/join LINK


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


HATS off the Ayr for pulling out all stops to make sure Monday’s card beat the weather and young rider Ross Chapman was mighty grateful the meeting did get the green light as he booted home a magnificent 1231/1 four-timer.

It cost the course several thousand pounds, in manpower and miles of protective fleece, to cover the entire track but in the end it was money well spent.
Chapman is based with Iain Jardine and it says a lot for the young conditional that he felt he should also have won on his other ride which saw him beaten less than a length by Richard Johnson!

Meanwhile the first two day weekend meeting of 2018 at Ayr takes place on Friday and Saturday with totepool Raceday followed by Tennent’s Raceday.

Coming as it does just a few days before the start of the Cheltenham Festival this fixture always attracts a bit of attention and this year sees a significant boost in the prize-money on offer with more than £140,000 up for grabs over the two days.

Friday’s feature race is the Class 3 totesport.com handicap chase run over two miles for and a half furlongs, a contest won last year by the Nick Alexander trained Gold Opera.
Other interesting races on the card include the toteexacta handicap hurdle over two miles four and a half furlongs and the two mile handicap hurdle which is run for the James Barclay Trophy.

Saturday’s card is dominated by three Class 3 contests – the Tennent’s Lager Handicap Chase over two miles and half a furlong, the Caledonia Best Handicap Hurdle for the Craigie Cup which is run over two miles four and a half furlongs and the Magners Handicap Chase for the Hugh Barclay Challenge Trophy which is a three mile race.
The Craigie Cup was won in 2017 by Desert Cry, trained by Donald McCain and ridden by Brian Hughes and this trainer and jockey combination are likely to have several fancied runners on the day.

The countdown to the 2018 Cheltenham Festival is nearly over and Racing UK have it completely covered! Here are some facts about Racing UK’s coverage of the most exciting four days in Jumps racing:
– Racing UK is the only channel showing ALL 28 races live from the 2018 Cheltenham Festival.
– Racing UK will broadcast 9.5 hours of live HD coverage every day starting at 10am from the course – that’s 38 hours in total!
– Racing UK will be showing full race replays after racing each day so you can catch up on all the action after live racing.
– Racing UK don’t interrupt their coverage with long ad breaks so you get even more insight and in-depth interviews with owners, trainers and jockeys.

What’s more, you can take The Festival with you wherever you are with racinguk.com as you can watch on TV, tablet and mobile – so you never need to miss a race or that all important preview or bit of analysis.

Racing UK really do have it all covered, so make sure you’re Cheltenham ready with complete coverage on Racing UK. Join Racing UK and call 0845 111 64411 (UK) / 0818 776 779 (ROI) or join online by visiting racinguk.com/join LINK
Don’t forget to check out our Twitter feed (@ScottishRacing) and www.scottishracing.co.uk for all the latest news


I’M hearing the Premier Chase at Kelso on Saturday is building up to be quite a race.

Scotland’s two Grand National entries, Seeyouatmidnight and Captain Redbeard, are both on course for the Listed prize and they are set to be joined by southern raider Bristol De Mai.
Nigel Twiston-Davies is sending his wide-margin Betfair Chase hero to the Scottish borders as a stepping-stone to the Grade 1 Aintree Bowl in April.

His owners, Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, are no strangers to Kelso as they saw their light and dark green colours carried to victory by Top Notch in the 2016 Morebattle Hurdle.

And it won’t be the first time Sandy Thomson’s Seeyouatmidnight has clashed with Bristol De Mai. The pride of Greenlaw slammed his southern rival by twelve lengths at Carlisle three years ago when Brian Hughes said he had never stormed up the famous hill so strongly in a chase!

There’s a fair few Scottish-owned horses in the Grand National with Hawick-born Graham Wylie likely to be represented by Bellshill while Borders couple Paul and Clare Rooney have several entries including The Last Samuri who was runner-up two years ago.

Airdrie businessman Ronnie Bartlett is sure to see Willie Mullins-trained Rathvinden get a run off 10st 9lb while the ‘Auroras Encore’ winning National colours of Jim Beaumont and Douglas Pryde are set to be carried by Maggio.

North Queensferry-based Dan and Michelle MacDonald are only single-handed now with Silsol, trained by Paul Nicholls, as I gather Warriors Tale has been sold to three-time Grand National-winning owner Trevor Hemmings.

Fingers crossed the cold weather doesn’t interfere with Ayr tomorrow or Musselburgh which stages its final jumps fixture of the season on Wednesday.

Dan Skelton has a few entries at Ayr and he will be looking to build on an already decent strike-rate of nearly 25 per cent.

Hats off to Stuart Coltherd’s Surprise Vendor as he could be making the 97th appearance (Flat and jumps) of his career in the Biggest Jumps Season On Racing UK Handicap Hurdle.

The popular 12-year-old will get an extra special cheer when he hopefully becomes racing’s latest centurion.

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


FOLLOWING recent reports in the media regarding Musselburgh Racecourse, Scottish Racing stresses the importance of a healthy Musselburgh to racing in Scotland, and praises the work of the current management team at the racecourse.

The East Lothian Council (ELC) has informed racecourse staff of their preference that all employees cease to be employed by the Musselburgh Joint Racing Committee, and instead be placed on the ELC payroll. This preference will be ratified at a Council meeting to be held on 27th February 2018.

Scottish Racing Manager, Delly Innes, said “Musselburgh Racecourse is hugely important to Scottish Racing. Under Chief Executive Bill Farnsworth’s excellent leadership, he and his efficient and dedicated team have developed Musselburgh Racecourse into a VisitScotland 5* attraction, which is ranked within the top 10% of all attractions in Scotland, and has been awarded Gold Standard Status by the Racehorse Owners’ Association for a number of consecutive years”.
“Under its current management team, Musselburgh Racecourse has seen massive improvement and progress, and we very much hope that the council will take into account the views of the racecourse staff and the racing industry, as to how the racecourse is governed”.


Meanwhile it was jumps racing at its best on Kelso on Thursday when Cyrus Darius and Big River won the feature races.

An appreciative borders crowd gave a warm reception to both horses as they were led back in and it was great to see such nice jumpers on parade overall.

The win of Cyrus Darius, landing the Morebattle Hurdle for the second year running, was a real poignant affair as it was the first winner for Ruth Jefferson since the death of her father Malcolm.

I’m sure Ruth will do her dad proud and she certainly has a lovely team at her disposal. She said afterwards that Cyrus Darius will mix and match hurdles and fences but it will come as a surprise if a hat-trick attempt in the ‘Morebattle’ is not on the cards for next year.

Incidentally he is co-owned by Scots-born Graham Calder whose colours have been carried by some decent types over the years. Graham and his wife were all all smiles in the winners’ enclosure afterwards accompanied by their two dogs.

The canine theme continued in the next race, the Ivan Straker Memorial Chase, which went to Lucinda Russell’s Big River owned by Two Black Labs! As mentioned in this column before Debs Thomson (one of the Two Golf Widows of One For Arthur fame), is behind the ownership and the colours sported by Derek Fox feature the silhouette of a black labrador with paw prints on the sleeves and cap.

Debs also took her beloved Labs, Dom and Louis, in the winners’ enclosure where they were presented with dog biscuits!

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


KELSO report

By Gordon Brown

CYRUS DARIUS gained an emotional success in the Timeform Morebattle Hurdle to supply Ruth Jefferson with her first winner since the death of her father Malcolm.

Brian Hughes, successful earlier on aboard Taxmeifyoucan, was always confident on the 5/2 chance who slammed Better Getalong by twelve lengths to win the prestigious event for the second year running.

Ruth Jefferson said: “I’m delighted with that as the horses have all been running well. He’s a lovely big horse and we’re not ruling out going back over fences. We’ve no plans but I’d say we’ll mix and match it with him hurdling and chasing.”

Big River saw off Shantou Flyer in pleasing style to land the Ivan Straker Memorial Chase by four and a half lengths in the hands of Derek Fox.

Winning trainer Lucinda Russell said: “He loves it round here as that’s five wins from six visits. He’s in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham but I’m not sure if that’s the race for him. I’m delighted to win this race as Major Straker gave me a valuable reference when I applied for a licence some twenty years ago.”


IT’S an interesting card at Ayr today and I’m looking forward to seeing Grand Morning returning to the scene of last month’s course and distance victory.
He’s owned by J P McManus and trained by Lucinda Russell who reports him as an exciting prospect.

In the previous race it’s good to see Gold Cup winning Nico de Boinville in attendance to ride hat-trick seeking Divine Spear – a JLT Novices’ Chase entry – for his boss Nicky Henderson.

It’s also a busy mid-week in Scotland with action at Ayr on Tuesday, Musselburgh on Wednesday and Kelso on Thursday.

I’m particularly looking forward to Kelso as it’s Morebattle Hurdle day which is always a cracking afternoon.

The Morebattle is a quality race with a rich history and has duly been won by some classy horses.

Jinxy Jack, trained by the late Gordon Richards, won four renewals in-a-row between 1990 and 1993 while Oliver Sherwood’s Large Action was successful in 1995 before chasing home Alderbrook in the Champion Hurdle five weeks later.

Subsequent multiple Grade 1 chase winner Direct Route, trained by Howard Johnson, took the race under Paul Carberry in 1996 and there was a massive upset four years later when the County Durham trainer’s Quwetwo floored Nicky Henderson’s 14-1 ON hot favourite Zaymar.

Peddlers Cross was the 2011 hero for Donald McCain the season after his memorial victory at the Cheltenham Festival and twelve months later it was the turn of Simonsig, another Henderson raider who ended up a dual Festival scorer.

The Richards’ stable has been a great supporter of the Morebattle Hurdle – Nicky won it in 2015 with Glingerburn and 2013 with Duke Of Navan while One For Harry has been runner-up for the past two years, most recently to Cyrus Darius saddled by Malcolm Jefferson who sadly passed away last month.
This year Nicky Richards hopes to run Better Getalong, a highly thought of young hurdler who has been placed at Cheltenham in Grade 2 company already this season.

He carries the colours of David Wesley Yates, an owner best known for his association with spring-heeled grey Monet’s Garden who happened to win a bumper at Kelso during his formative years.



By Gordon Brown

WE HAVE A DREAM extended his winning sequence to four on the final afternoon of Musselburgh’s Cheltenham Trials fixture yesterday.

Nicky Henderson was in attendance to see the 1/5 favourite beat persistent challenger Act Of Valour by four and a half lengths in the bet365 Scottish Triumph Hurdle.

The Seven Barrows trainer said: “He goes for the Triumph at the festival now and it’s great to have two such strong juveniles for the race as him and Apple’s Shakira. It’s a good job I don’t have to chose between them!”

Red River is also hedging for Cheltenham next month after a taking performance for the Kim Bailey/David Bass combination in the Albert Bartlett Scottish Trial Novices’ Hurdle.
Bailey said: “He will be a better horse on better ground and I would expect he would go to the festival after this. It was his first run after a wind operation which involved cauterising his palette so I thought it was a good performance.”

Kevin Ryan-trained Beyond The Clouds was also making it four wins on the bounce when scrambling home by a neck in the Sky Bet Supreme Scottish Trial Novices’ Hurdle.

Winning jockey Brian Hughes said: “We were worried about the soft ground and he could go to Kelso next for the Premier Hurdle as he’s won there before. He was getting a bit lonely out in front and he might turn out to be an Aintree horse later in the spring.”


By Gordon Brown

RACHAEL McDONALD was the toast of Musselburgh on Saturday after landing the Edinburgh National on 10/1 chance Full Jack.
Sandy Thomson’s Greenlaw raider was left clear when Looking Well ran out at the last and he passed the line nine lengths ahead of Missed Approach.
McDonald, who needs one more win to lose her 7lb claim, said: “We might have been a bit lucky but that racing for you. He has enjoyed himself since he came to us and we’ve been trying to keep him sweet.
“He was a bit hesitant to go on the gallops initially but he’s fine now. I gave him a positive ride and he jumped away great.”
In form Bryony Frost was another female jockey to shine as she bagged the Scottish Champion Chase on Marracudja for her boss Paul Nicholls.
“I had my first ever winner under Rules in the hunter chase on this day here three years ago and it’s amazing what has happened since,” Frost said.
The Queen’s Forth Bridge looked like springing an upset in the Scottish County Hurdle before being reeled in late on by Donald McCain-trained Dear Sire.
Borders couple Paul and Clare Rooney saw their colours carried to victory by well-backed favourite Barney Dwan in the Scottish Future Champions Novices’ Chase.
The five-length scorer was a first course success for Cheltenham trainer Fergal O’Brien.


Friday 2nd February

Some off the biggest names in national hunt racing will be in attendance at Musselburgh this weekend for the Scottish venue’s Cheltenham Trials fixture.

I hear champion jumps trainer Nicky Henderson along with Paul Nicholls and Warren Greatrex are heading to East Lothian in person along with leading jockeys Harry Cobden, Briony Frost, Daryl Jacob, Nico De Boinville and Jonathan Burke.

Despite the counter attraction of the Dublin Racing Festival over at Leopardstown, both days have been largely unaffected and, as Henderson said, horses will always rock up for the less testing Musselburgh ground with the Cheltenham festival only around five weeks away.

Seven Barrows-based Henderson has a decent record at the meeting and he has three runners today – We Have A Dream, Claimantakinforgan and Mr Whipped. The trio boast classy form and could all play a major part in next month’s festival.

Meanwhile Behindthelines has been doing connections proud in two starts under Rules and it’s all in a very good cause.

Trained by Lucinda Russell and representing a six-strong partnership known as ‘London Scots For Doddie’, all prize money earned by the gelding will be pledged to Doddie Weir’s research fund into motor neurone disease.

Having come third on his debut at Kelso in mid-January, with Doddie in attendance, the six-year-old came within an ace of a glorious victory when only going under by three-quarters of a length at Ayr on Wednesday.

Behindthelines runs in the same colours as rugby union side London Scottish and it is surely only a matter of time before he goes one better.

Former Scotland international Weir announced last summer that he had been diagnosed with MD and launched the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation to raise funds and investigate causes and potential cures for the condition.

Finally this week it was sad to hear Malton trainer Malcolm Jefferson had passed away at the age of 71 on Friday.

Malcolm’s first winner in 37-year career with a licence came in 1981 when Mark Edelson won a bumper at Perth.

Several Cheltenham and Aintree winners came through his very capable hands after that and he had quite a few Scottish owners down the years.
His daughter Ruth takes over reins and I wish her all the best.

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



ALL road lead to Musselburgh next weekend for the Cheltenham Trials fixture which is staged on Saturday and Sunday.
It all started 14 years ago with the Scottish County Hurdle and since then the meeting has evolved significantly with tartan versions of the Triumph Hurdle, Albert Bartlett Hurdle, Supreme Hurdle, Champion Chase and Foxhunter Chase.
Both days boast over £100,000 in prize money and the Saturday feature is the Edinburgh National over 4m which sees the runners pass the winning post no less than four times.
This year there is the counter attraction of the newly conceived Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown but Musselburgh officials are confident the East Lothian venue will still be well supported.
Despite the difference in configuration between the two tracks, it’s amazing how many horses have run well at Musselburgh before going close or winning races at the Cheltenham Festival.
Looking further ahead it was great to see Grand National-bound Seeyouatmidnight in such good form on the gallops at Sandy Thomson’s the other morning.
‘Midnight’, who is owned by his wife Quona, is set to make his belated seasonal reappearance at Kelso in early March and Sandy is licking his lips in anticipation at his Berwickshire raider tackling the big Aintree fences on April 14.
His back form is certainly looking pretty solid and his comprehensive defeat of Bristol De Mai at Carlisle last season is out of the top drawer.
I also paid a visit to Lucinda Russell’s yard and Grand National hero One For Arthur was looking pretty pleased with himself.
He’s had four months box rest but looks in terrific order after some gentle walking and he will shortly be getting light exercise.
His comeback will be geared towards the 2019 Grand National and I hear he will hopefully return to action at Kelso in the autumn.
Don’t forget to check out our Twitter feed (@ScottishRacing) and www.scottishracing.co.uk for all the latest news.


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.



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