Kelso Racecourse is situated to the north of the town of the same name in Roxburghshire, in the Scottish Borders, approximately 43 miles southeast of Edinburgh. The history of horse racing in the vicinity of Kelso can be traced back to 1734, when meetings were held at Caverton Edge, 5 miles from the town. However, Kelso Racecourse was built in its current location in 1822, on what was previously a tract of low, soft, wet ground and the grandstand, which today forms the central part of a larger structure, was erected in the same year. Interestingly, Kelso Racecourse was mainly used for Flat racing until 1888, when the United Border Hunt moved to the track and it became solely a National Hunt venue. Today, Kelso Racecourse hosts 13 National Hunt fixtures throughout the year.
For racegoers, Kelso Racecourse offers a choice of the Members Enclosure, with an admission price of £16 in midweek, rising to £20 on weekends and the Paddock Enclosure, with an admission price of £13 for all meetings. Concessions are available for senior citizens and students and admission is free for accompanied children.
For corporate events, such as conferences, exhibitions and meetings, Kelso Racecourse offers a purpose-built conference centre with a range of flexible indoor spaces capable of accommodating up to 200 people, as well as many acres of outdoor space. The Tweedie Stand houses a large exhibition space on the ground floor, plus six meeting suites with removable partition walls that can be arranged to suit the size of the event. Unlimited free parking is available along with free Wi-Fi access throughout the site.
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What's unique about the course at Kelso?
The hurdle course at Kelso is a left-handed, very sharp oval, approximately one mile around, while the steeplechase course is a left-handed, sharp rectangle, approximately nine furlongs around. There are nine easy fences per circuit and although the run-in is long, at around two furlongs, the finish is fairly easy.
Notable Races and Events
The most prestigious race of the year at Kelso is the Grade 2 Premier Kelso Hurdle, run over 2 miles 2 furlongs in late February or early March and open to novice hurdlers aged 4 years and upwards. In 2013, Sue Smith's 8-year-old Mwaleshi sprang something of a surprise when making all to beat odds-on favourite Eduard by three quarters of a length, despite meeting Nicky Richards' 5-year-old on 11lb worse terms than in a handicap. That victory was his second in as many starts at Kelso, so he may be worth looking out for on his return to the Roxburghshire venue.
One horse who's been a regular visitor to Kelso Racecourse in recent seasons is Donald McCain's 12-year-old Ballabriggs. The 2011 Grand National winner finished second in the Premier Chase, over 2 miles 7 furlongs, at Kelso prior to his victory in the Aintree marathon and returned for the same preparatory race prior to running in the 2012 and 2013 Grand Nationals.
A little further back in the history of Kelso Racecourse, Jodami, trained in Stearsby, North Yorkshire by Peter Beaumont, who retired in 2010, won on his debut in a National Hunt Flat race at Kelso in 1990 at odds of 33/1. Three years and eleven wins later, Jodami won the Cheltenham Gold Cup under popular northern jockey Mark Dwyer. Peter Beaumont said later, “I first thought he would be a Gold Cup horse three years ago when he won his first race, a bumper at Kelso.”
Top Owners, Jockeys and Trainers
Ryan Mania is the most successful jockey at Kelso during the last five seasons with 22 winners from 165 rides but, even allowing for Graham Lee's defection to the Flat jockeys' ranks, is still only just ahead of Denis O'Regan with 19 winners from 100 rides in the same period. Greystoke trainer Nicky Richards tops the trainers' table with 27 winners from 128 runners and Andrea and Graham Wylie are the leading owners with 17 winners from 85 runners.
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