Kelso may be no Cheltenham, but it is among the best racecourses in the whole of the country to visit with feedback from racegoers, trainers, owners, jockeys and stable staff always positive.
A National Hunt track, Kelso is known as “Britain’s Friendliest Racecourse” and was also voted as the ‘best small course’ for Scotland and Northern England by the Racegoers Club in 2007, 2012 and 2014, which is genuinely the sort of achievement racecourses should be looking for.
One of Scotland’s five racecourse, Kelso is also very close to the border with Northumberland and so is ideally placed to welcome visitors from England too.
- Address – Kelso Racecourse, Kelso, Scottish Borders, TD5 7SX.
- Owner – Kelso Races Ltd.
- TV Station – Racing TV.
- Type – National Hunt.
- Surface – Turf.
Kelso is a left-handed track, rather unique in its layout. It’s basically flat, with the hurdle and chase courses being essentially separate.
Though once a track strongly favouring stamina in a finish, Kelso now has its final hurdle and fence much closer to the winning line. While the two-furlong run-in no longer exists, there is still a need for stamina when the ground gets soft.
When the ground is in better nick, Kelso favours speed more than stamina as it rides pretty sharp so keep an eye on the weather before placing a bet.
Visually, with some stats backing it up, Kelso can be a speed track but the feedback from jockeys is that stamina is what’s needed.
Riders definitely feel that Kelso takes plenty of getting, at least when the weather is bad, but that confusion can easily be sorted out.
While it’s true that races can now change dramatically at the end after the final obstacle and that a burst of pace can work at that point, the lead can only change if runners have truly seen out the trip. Those not getting the distance leading up to the final flight or last couple of furlongs won’t be in a position to challenge at all, so the stamina angle remains important.
Visiting Kelso Racecourse
Kelso’s reputation as a friendly racecourse truly is deserved, but it’s not only the human visitors who get the full treatment.
As seen on TV at their major meeting, winning horses at Kelso always get their own bag of carrots to munch on which is a wonderful touch!
How to Get to Kelso Racecourse
We cannot stress enough how good a place Kelso is to visit, so keep directions in mind.
The track is just a mile north of Kelso. From the Galashiels area, around 18 miles away, drivers can head south on the A7, then turn onto the A6091. Using the A68, B6404, B6397 and A6089 the track can be found and is signposted.
Kelso Racecourse is around 45 miles from Edinburgh using the city bypass, the A68, the A697 and then the A6089. Using the A1 north, Newcastle is 69 miles away and passes Berwick upon Tweed, 24 miles from the track.
Those wishing to use the train can look for times on the Borders Railway. Routes from Edinburgh to Tweedbank exist, via another six border towns, making for a rather scenic journey. Berwick station is on the main East Coast Mainline, but is at least half an hour’s drive away.
Kelso also provides a bus service to the racecourse on event days. The bus transfer runs from Tweedbank station to the track, though bookings are required via the racecourse if you want to use this service.
Failing that, Border Buses also operator in the area, from Berwick to Galashiels via Kelso, with the timetable available to view online.
Where to Stay
Although some racegoers may choose to stay in Edinburgh, Newcastle or Berwick, rooms are available in a number of picturesque border towns including Coldstream, Melrose, Galashiels, Jedburgh, Selkirk and of course Kelso itself.
Kelso Racecourse Fixtures
|Sunday||10th Dec 2023||Afternoon||Jump / Turf|
|Friday||29th Dec 2023||Afternoon||Jump / Turf|
Major Events at Kelso
Though there are other good race days put on by Kelso, the track’s best meeting is in late February or early March.
A fantastic day of action is highlighted by these races:
|Juvenile Hurdle (Go North Grey Bomber Series Qualifier)||4yo Only, Hurdle, Class 3||2m|
|Premier Novices’ Hurdle||4yo+, Novices’ Hurdle, Grade 2||2m2f|
|Handicap Hurdle||4yo+, Handicap Hurdle, Class 2||2m5f|
|Premier Chase||5yo+, Chase, Listed Race||2m7½f|
|Morebattle Hurdle||4yo+, Hurdle, Class 2||2m|
This meeting now gets major terrestrial TV coverage and attracts some excellent horses, trainers and jockeys. Prize money is excellent, and while the Grade 2 Premier Hurdle is the highest quality race on the card, there is even more prize money for the Morebattle Hurdle with more than £50,000 going to the winner.
A Brief History of Kelso Racecourse
Racing has taken place in the Kelso area for a very long time.
The first meeting on record was held at Caverton Edge as far back as 1734. After that, racing was held at Blakelaw and there has always been an interest in the sport here.
Foundations were laid for a new track back in July of 1822 at Berrymoss, known then as the Duke’s Course and latterly known simply as Kelso.
A major incident occurred at the racecourse in 1913. On May 19th of that year four people, Edith Hudson, Agnes and Elizabeth Thomson and Arabella Scott were caught trying to set Kelso Racecourse on fire. They were arrested and later imprisoned at Calton Jail.
The course survived and continued to flourish over the next 100 years, with it’s big day now a proper focal point for some trainers on the National Hunt calendar.
Kelso had been a Flat racing course from its inception up to 1888, though now runs exclusively under National Hunt racing rules.