Big River can revel at his favourite track

Local trainers are setting their sights on a profitable weekend at Kelso.

By Ralph Mellon
Wednesday, 12th January 2022, 3:50 pm
Updated Wednesday, 12th January 2022, 5:57 pm
Big River will be hoping to lead them home at his favourite track again
Big River will be hoping to lead them home at his favourite track again

Lucinda Russell, based in Milnathort, and Nick Alexander, from near-by at Kinneston, will send some of their leading lights south to compete in a couple of the meeting’s top class races.

Russell’s Big River is out to extend his remarkable course record at Kelso in the £15,000 Chairman’s Cup Handicap Chase on Sunday.

Big River relishes being at Kelso and often saves his best form for the Borders track.

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He gained his seventh victory at Kelso in the Scottish Borders National early last month.

In ten appearances at his favourite venue, he has also finished second twice and was unlucky to be brought down when travelling strongly in the 2019 Borders National.

Russell said the Borders track suited her horse’s style and she hoped to see him get his nose in front at the end in his famous silks.

“He just seems to relish that uphill finish at Kelso and to win the Borders National was particularly satisfying as that was his aim for the first half of the season,” she said.

"He carries the distinctive colours of Debs Thomson’s two black labs, Dom and Louis, and Kelso certainly know the way to a labrador’s heart as part of the winning prize were two tins of Pedigree Chum.”

But there will be plenty of stern competition from others who are all hoping to land the top prize.

Big River could clash again with Mark Walford-trained Cash To Ash, who was two and a three-quarter lengths back in second in the Borders National under Hawick jockey Jamie Hamilton.

Course and distance winner Almazhar Garde was a long way back in seventh in the same four-mile marathon and he represents Oxfordshire trainer Charlie Longsdon.

The other feature race is the £15,000 Kelso Betting Ring Bookmakers Handicap Hurdle and Nick Alexander-trained Elvis Mail is the top-rated entry on a BHA mark of 137.

A three-time course scorer, he also produced a fine effort when a close third in the grade two Premier Kelso Novices’ Hurdle three years ago. Due to Scottish Government restrictions, only annual members will be permitted to attend as spectators, alongside racehorse owners and other participants.