FATHER Christmas will be greeting young racegoers at Kelso Racecourse’s Festive Family Raceday this Sunday.
There will be fun activities for children in the Pavilion Marquee next to the parade ring where older racegoers can enjoy a view of the horses ahead of one Scotland’s most valuable racedays.
The Greenlaw based trainer Sandy Thomson will bid to extend his remarkable record in the £60,000 Persimmon Homes Scottish Borders National.
Despite being one of the most competitive events of the season, no other trainer has won the marathon feature since 2013.
Thomson scored with Neptune Equester in 2014 and 2015 and with Harry The Viking in 2016 and 2018, the race having been abandoned in between.
Thompson could be two-handed in this year’s race with Harry The Viking and the recent Kelso scorer Caventara.
Joint top-weighted for the race are the Sue Smith-trained Sharp Response and Mysteree, who carried the colours of Bonnyrigg owner Lynne Maclennan to victory in the valuable Belhaven Brewery Steeplechase at Kelso in October.
A maximum of 16 of the 30 entries will be permitted to line up for the race.
Other likely candidates include Kelso winner ACDC and the Maurice Barnes trained-Bafana Blue.
The Worcestershire-based trainer Dr Richard Newland, who struck with Royale Knight back in 2013, has two entries in Aaron Lad and No Hassle Hoff.
The £40,000 Edinburgh Gin Veterans’ Steeplechase has attracted a quality entry, including the 152-rated Outlander, trained in Newmarket by Richard Spencer.
He was ninth behind Tiger Roll in April’s Grand National and is a triple Grade 1 winner over fences in Ireland.
Possible rivals include last year’s winner Cultram Abbey, trained by Nicky Richards, and Indian Temple for the father and son team Tim and Harry Reid.
The £20,000 Paris Pike Novices Steeplechase, sponsored by Mrs Ivan Straker, is the second race on the programme and never fails to highlight some of the best emerging talent in the north.
Punters looking for clues should follow the betting because the last three favourites for the race have all won.
The Harriet Graham-trained Aye Right, a four-time winner at the course over hurdles, could make his debut over fences for his owner Geoff Adam who is a director of the racecourse.
The Robert Eggo Handicap Hurdle Race has been sponsored in memory of one of Kelso’s most dedicated followers and has attracted a bumper entry.
The list of stables with entries reads like a who’s who of Scottish and northern trainers.
The Ruth Jefferson-trained Temple Man, who runs in the colours of Mrs Ivan Straker, could be the answer if he settles in the race.
Father Christmas will arrive soon after the gates open at 10am. The first of seven races gets underway at 12.15pm.