Lough Derg Jewel. Kelso racecourse

Kelso racecourse deserves credit for prize money

ONE of the reasons I started this website was to promote the good things happening in this great sport in the north. One of those good things is Kelso racecourse. Poor prize money is one of horse racing’s biggest bugbears. It is a perennial whinge among trainers and owners. And there is some justification for connections keeping their horses in boxes instead of sending them on a long journey for a tinpot £2k race. But credit where credit’s due. Sometimes racecourses get things right.

Take Kelso on Sunday. There is £88,000 in prize money on offer. There are two £25,000 races and one £14,000 contest. In total, 70 horses will make the journey to the beautiful Scottish borders on a cold January Sunday.

It is still less than the 200,000 euros on offer at Fairyhouse, the highlight being the £100k Dan Moore Chase. But Kelso deserves a huge amount of credit for getting it right.

Kelso racecourse breaks £1m prize money barrier

In fact, the Borders track is offering annual prize money in excess of £1million for the first time in 2018. Another first will be a visit from the ITV racing team for the April 7 meeting. The independent course is easily outperforming the British Horseracing Authority framework, with the average prize across the 98 races scheduled in 2018 rising to £12,200, compared to £10,000 in 2017.

The racecourse, now under the management of former Cartmel supremo Jonathan Garratt, recognises that it needs good quality, competitive racing to attract racegoers and people to the area. Thus, every spare penny goes into prize money.

The track has long been rewarded with star names going back to Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Jodami and more recently Many Clouds. Paul Nicholls also regularly sends some of his top names to Kelso. It’s a dead cert that some of racings big guns will be heading north over the next few meetings to try to plunder some of the excellent prize money.

Racing tips for today

As for finding a few winners, here are some pointers to Sunday’s Kelso racecourse card…

12.40: COOLE HALL is one of our 10 horses to follow for 2018 and has a double penalty to defy. Knockrobin is getting 10lb and it will be a good performance by Coole Hall if he can give the weight away.

1.10 Some Reign could give Rose Dobbin a double here but preference is for Swashbuckle and BOOYAKASHA. Nicky Richards’ six-year-old travelled nicely at Catterick and if he can settle better he may offer some each-way value.

1,40 Chti Balko won well at Haydock and despite a 7lb rise he will be a tough nut to crack. However, CHARMANT has won his last two easily and an 8lb rise may not stop him from completing the hat-trick.

3.15 LOUGH DERG JEWEL (pictured above) has shown a likeable aptitude for chasing and is unbeaten in two runs. Brian Hughes rides again and the pair don’t look too badly treated for this foray into handicap company. Chidswell is a big danger.

3.45 A decent hunter chase and VIVALDI COLLOGNES travels up from Ditcheat for Paul Nicholls. Cultrum Abbey is the one to beat but it would be a surprise if the former doesn’t return down the A1 with the money.

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