Horse Racing has been taking place in Kelso for nearly 300 years, with the current course set to host its 200th anniversary in 2022. It currently stages around 14 meetings each season from September to May. The course’s location may be quite remote in the Scottish Borders but the standard of racing does not reflect this. In recent years, high-profile horses such as Top Notch, Cyrus Darius, Clever Cookie, La Prezien, Mount Mews, Peddlers Cross, and Simonsig have all won some of Kelso’s biggest races. However, the real feather in Kelso’s cap was attracting the 2015 Grand National winner Many Clouds to run in its Premier Chase in 2016, a race Many Clouds duly won.
Below are some key facts about Kelso Racecourse.
Course Type: Jumps
Current Owner: Kelso Races Limited
Around two-thirds of the hurdles and chase tracks at Kelso follow the same pattern, but both courses have separate bits, which means the hurdles course measures about a furlong shorter. Both courses are left-handed and mainly flat and fair, but the final climb to the line puts an emphasis on stamina, which means that races are often run to suit strong galloping types. Stamina is especially at a premium on heavy ground.
Racing takes place at Kelso from May to September and the course stages some interesting meetings. These include the Halloween Meeting in October, the Remembrance Meeting in November, and the Festive Fling Meeting in December. Other fun meetings include the Burns’ Pudding Meeting, Party In The Paddock, and Ladies Day.
However, the biggest race days in regard to the quality of the racing include the Scottish Borders National Day in December, the Morebattle Hurdle Day in February, and the Premier Hurdle Day in March.
The Scottish Borders National Day features the Scottish Borders National, a race run over a trip of a trip of 4 miles and 90 yards. The race has been won by the likes of course specialist Harry The Viking.
Meanwhile, Morebattle Hurdle Day has attracted some of Kelso’s most famous equine visitors. Past winners include Cheltenham Festival winners such as Peddlers Cross and Simonsig, whilst horses such as Runswick Royal, Top Notch, Glingerburn, and dual-winner Cyrus Darius have also got their names on the role of honour. This card also features the Ivan Straker Memorial Chase which has been won by the likes of Big River.
The Premier Hurdle Meeting then takes place in March, with the Premier Hurdle being the highlight on the card. Clever Cookies is probably the most famous winner of this race, as Peter Niven’s popular gelding went on to enjoy great success on the flat. This fixture also features the Premier Chase, which has been won by horses like Seldom Inn, as well as the aforementioned Many Clouds.
Kelso Racecourse doesn’t operate a strict dress code, though regular racegoers have mainly opted for the smart casual approach in recent years. Ladies Day is a bit different though, with many ladies choosing to dress to impress, whilst male partners often dress to match their better halves.
The course urges racegoers to consider their footwear wisely, as a fair amount of walking may be required if you want to experience everything that Kelso Racecourse has to offer. Therefore, boots are an excellent option for ladies when the weather is typically autumnal or wintery.
Of course, with Kelso being in Scotland, you can also get some lovely days. However, the unpredictability of the Scottish weather means you should always prepare for all possibilities. Therefore, packing an umbrella and coat, and maybe hats and gloves, is a must for many regular visitors.
Kelso Racecourse staged flat racing for the first 66 years it was open. Then, in 1888, the United Border Hunt took up residence at the course, after which it has hosted jumps racing ever since.
Address and Contact Details
The Racecourse, Kelso, TD5 7SX
01573 221 221