Kelso’s Premier Raceday

Features | 29th February 2024

Visitors to Kelso Racecourse for its Premier Raceday fixture this weekend can expect the warmest of welcomes

Warm Scottish Welcome

The Scottish Borders track prides itself in being one of Britain’s friendliest racecourse but it is also the cosiest.

Not even the biting winter cold can stop the enjoyment of excellent jumps racing. The charming grandstand, that looks out on to picturesque countryside, has coal fires to warm the cockles of racegoers on the chilliest of days.

The Listed building still retains many of its original Georgian features and is one of the most recognisable sights in British racing.

This Saturday it will look out on to some superb action as the spotlight of Premier Racing focusses on Kelso.

The Grade 2 bet365 Premier Novices’ Hurdle, the Listed bet365 Premier Chase and the bet365 Morebattle Hurdle are the feature races at the popular course’s biggest meeting of the year.

Jango Baie, winner of the Grade Formby Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree on Boxing Day, heads the entries for the 2m2f Premier Hurdle.

The race was won last year by Nemean Lion. Kerry Lee’s star has, this season, gone to win the Welsh Champion Hurdle and the Kingwell Hurdle.

Grand National hero Many Clouds landed the Premier Chase eight years ago. This weekend, Aintree hopeful Monbeg Genius and last year’s winner Empire Steel top the entries for the 2m7f contest.

Runners go past the stand at Kelso
Runners go past the stands at Kelso Racecourse

Prestigious Roll of Honour

The Morebattle Hurdle has a rich roll of honour. It was won four times by northern favourite Jinxy Jack in the 1990s, when top-class pair Direct Route and Large Action both lifted the prize later in the decade.

Simonsig was another notable winner. Nicky Henderson’s grey landed the Kelso contest in 2012 enroute to victory in the Baring Bingham Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

This year’s race promises to be a competitive affair. The £120,000 contest has attracted a strong field of entries.

Rich History

Last season, Kelso Racecourse celebrated its bicentenary when HRH The Princess Royal unveiled a ceremonial stone plaque in the winners’ enclosure to mark the anniversary.

Racing had been taking place at other sites in and around Kelso as far back as 1734 before moving to the present site at Berrymoss to the north of the market town.

The original foundation stone for the impressive grandstand was laid in July 2022, with the first meeting taking place nine months later.

It was designed by renowned architect John Carr. With its stunning architecture and breathtaking views from its popular roof terrace, it is one of the oldest grandstands in British racing.

It’s working fireplaces are unique in British racecourse stands but it was another type of fire that almost destroyed the building in 1913.

Sisters Agnes and Elizabeth Thomson, along with fellow suffragettes Edith Hudson and Arabella Scott, attempted to burn it down in 1913.

Luckily, it survived and it will play host to thousands of visitors for Kelso’s first Premier Racing meeting on Saturday.

You can see the best of British Racing at a Premier Raceday near you here

Learn more