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The Weekly Blog

A Gleaming Elixir

In plain numerical terms, with £310,000 of prize money on offer, bet365 Morebattle Day will be the most valuable day’s racing ever staged at Kelso Racecourse. But more than that, it’s the day that we’ve been looking forward to the most because of the sheer quality of the horses on display and the strength of the competition. It’s a day to savour.

The word sheer is derived from skere, from the old English word scir meaning: bright, clear, gleaming; pure, unmixed. Which seems appropriate to me – a gleaming elixir of undiluted horseracing tonic for the soul.

It’s pleasing, therefore, that the day is already guaranteed to attract a significantly increased crowd. Before the gates even open, the demand for pre-sold tickets means that at least a thousand additional racegoers will watch Scotland’s most valuable hurdle race unfold on the racecourse in front of them, compared to last year. This is important because, although it’s tempting for racecourse managers like me to get caught up in spreadsheets and figures, racedays are not generally judged by the public on their profitability, or even their off-course betting appeal, but by the atmosphere at the track.

Empire Steel, 2023 Premier Steeplechase

Racegoers attending Saturday’s fixture at Kelso will not be there because they’ve been seduced by a funfair, or a big-name band playing after racing, or high value prizes for the best dressed ladies (all of which we’ve done and can be very entertaining); they are coming because we’re staging a sheer raceday – pure, unmixed, bright and clear.

And they’re coming in significantly increased numbers, which is something that everyone involved in the event should be proud of.  The list of people is long – there’s the office team, who’ve answered all the queries from all the new visitors, the caretakers, and the groundstaff who, if they haven’t moved mountains, have certainly moved mountains of running rail to reveal a broad strip of beautiful fresh ground in recent days.

Then there are the hundreds of people that only come to work here on a raceday – stewards and customer care staff, the ITV production team, Racetech, Racing TV, our caterers, and the staff that take Tote bets on-course – all of them are contribute to the friendly atmosphere of the venue.

We couldn’t do any of it without horses – or the people that bring them, the racehorse breeders, owners, trainers, stable staff and jockeys.

Our sponsors, bet365 have helped us to transform the profile of this raceday over the last three years and, being a betting operator, they depend on people enjoying a wee punt – so, as is normal in this space, I should impart a tip for the weekend. But what to select? To mention one name could be taken as an insult by the connections of the others – every runner is worthy of a paragraph. And then there is the flip side – the owners who get upset about their runner being subjected to the curse of the Border Post blog tip… Some of them do win. Occasionally.

So, this week’s tip is not a horse, it’s a word of advice: Come racing and judge the horses for yourself in the flesh. You’ll enjoy it. And next year, when you return to Kelso on bet365 Morebattle Hurdle Day, bring two more friends with you.