A significant investment in prize money at Kelso has been rewarded with some quality entries for the eight races on bet365 Morebattle Hurdle Day this Saturday.
Among the 13 potential runners in the £45,000 bet365 Premier Steeplechase are six with entries in the Randox Grand National, including the favourite for the Aintree feature, Cloth Cap and the third-favourite Kimberlite Candy.
The race proved a successful stepping stone towards Grand National glory for Ballabriggs in 2011 and has since featured on the agenda for some of the public’s favourite horses since, including One For Arthur and Many Clouds.
Other possible runners in the three-mile test include last year’s winner Definitly Red, the Scottish trained Lake View Lad, Top Notch and Aso. The top rated horse is Nuts Well, a two-time winner at Kelso who posted a career-best effort when scooping the Grade 2 Old Roan Chase at Aintree in October.
Nuts Well represents the tiny Northumbrian stable of Ann Hamilton who, despite training only a handful of horses, also holds good chances elsewhere on the card with Pay The Piper in the £20,000 bet365 Handicap Hurdle and Tommy’s Oscar in either the £40,000 bet365 Premier Hurdle or the £70,000 bet365 Morebattle Hurdle.
Proschema, trained by Dan Skelton, has been installed by the sponsors as favourite for the bet365 Morebattle Hurdle and is one of 13 entries to hold an engagement at Cheltenham later this month – something that could put him in line for the £100,000 bonus on offer if the winner of the race can follow up in any contest at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival.
Eleven-time champion trainer Paul Nicholls is triple-handed with Christopher Wood, Miranda and Solo while sole Irish entry The Shunter, a Grade 3 scorer at Cheltenham in November, could be a first-ever runner at Kelso for Co Carlow-based Emmet Mullins.
Nicholls said “We’ve made a few entries and I think we will be sending five horses up to Kelso on Saturday. The prize money is unbelievable and we’ve had a bit of luck up there in the past. They deserve to have a really good day.”
At £213,000, the programme will by the richest in Kelso’s 199-year history.
Managing Director Jonathan Garratt said: “We have been planning the development of this programme for some time and the prize fund would have been even larger if it hadn’t been for the pandemic.
"We felt that it was really important to keep the racecourse moving forward, irrespective of the challenges, because we are providing a positive stimulus to businesses throughout our community.
“While it is disappointing that we are still not able to welcome any spectators, we are delighted that the races have been so well received by the industry and we are tremendously grateful to the racehorse owners, trainers and bet365 for their collective support.”
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