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Kelso – Preview 2nd March 2024

Gordon Brown – Race Reporter

Gordon has a wealth of experience of racing through his background in the written and broadcast media. His current principle role is reporting and supporting the scene in Scotland on Racing TV and relaying the latest news with Scottish angles.

Last year’s hero Benson is set to defend his crown in the £120,000 bet365 Morebattle Handicap Hurdle, the centrepiece on a star-studded £310,000 card at Kelso on Saturday.

And once again, there is a £100,000 bonus up for grabs should the winner go on to to land any race at the Cheltenham Festival later in the month – Benson, trained locally by Sandy Thomson, was pulled up in the Coral Cup but the bonus was scooped in 2021 by The Shunter.

“He’s got a big weight but he comes here in great form after two huge runs at Musselburgh in January and February,” said Thomson, who is a guest on ITV Racing’s morning programme, which is broadcast live from the track.

As well as the top-weight, the Lambden handler also saddles Bass Rock while the likely favourite is Nicky Henderson-trained mare Under Control, a close runner-up in a Grade 2 hurdle at Doncaster in January.

Henderson’s Jango Baie is also likely to head the market for the £55,000 Grade 2 bet365 Premier Novices’ Hurdle.

He won the Grade 1 Formby Hurdle at Aintree on Boxing Day and third-placed Cannock Park, trained by Hawick ex-jockey Paul Robson, is among the opposition again.

There is also plenty of quality in the £50,000 Listed bet365 Premier Chase.

Jonjo O’Neill’s leading Grand National fancy Monbeg Genius dominates the betting for a trainer successful in the 2021 renewal with Cloth Cap.

Ayr Right, trained jointly at Jedburgh by Harriet Graham and Gary Rutherford, has been operating in veterans’ chases this term and has been unlucky not to have got his eleven-year-old head in front.