The Border Post | Horse Racing Blog | Cartmel | Kelso Racecourse

The Weekly Blog

Who Deserves a Pat?

What do you get if you sit beneath a cow? A pat on the head.

If Humza Yousaf was hoping for a pat on the back this weekend, it’s more likely he feels as though his decision to end the SNP’s power-sharing deal the Green party has placed him well and truly beneath the cow’s tail.

But, as fascinating as it is to follow the twists and turns of life at Holyrood, the whole episode exemplifies why it is that we love sport and tend to roll our eyes at politics. This weekend, while politicians of every flavour rush to undermine each other in a battle for supremacy, horseracing’s top jumps trainers will complete an entirely positive and engaging battle to determine who’s top dog.

Saturday marks the end of the 2023/24 jump racing season and, sharing a bench in the Weighing Room at Sandown, Sean Bowen and Harry Cobden will not only express the greatest appreciation for each other’s talent and friendship, they will also do their damnedest to outride each other ahead of the presentation for the jockeys’ championship.

Outside the Weighing Room, Paul Nicholls, Dan Skelton and Willie Mullins will continue their battle for the trainers’ championship. Unlike the jockeys’ contest, which is determined by riding the highest number of winners, Britain’s top trainer will be the one who has accumulated the most prize money during the season. At the time of writing, Willie Mullins leads the charge with a lead of nearly £180k over Skelton and £243k over Nicholls. Crucially, however, Sandown’s valuable programme boasts prize money of £675k – so everything is to play for.

In the first race on the card, Nicholls and Skelton each saddle two runners, while Cobden and Bowen will face each other aboard Fire Flyer and Act Of Authority. Too bad, then, that none of them can claim first prize – which will inevitably be heading back to the Scottish Borders with the Craig Nichol ridden / Paul Robson trained Cannock Park, our selection for the weekend.

Having finished third in the bet365 Premier Novices Hurdle at Kelso in March, Cannock Park is one of hundreds of horses which are eligible to scoop another special end-of-season award.

The Shades Of Midnight Award will be presented to the connections of the horse judged to have put up the most stirring performance (or performances) at Kelso during the jumps season. The winner need not even have won a race – only to have stirred hearts – and will be selected from a shortlist made up entirely from horses nominated by Kelso racegoers (or those that have been watching on TV).

In addition to the bronze trophy which will be held, for one year, by the winner’s owners, the lad or lass who looks after the horse will receive £200 which they may or may not choose to spend on carrots.

If you would like to nominate a horse for the Shades Of Midnight Award, drop us a line before the end of the weekend at – telling us why your selection deserves a nice pat.