Kelso keeps the show on the road – without spectators

Trainer Sandy Thomson stresses importance of racing continuing.

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Trainer Sandy Thomson believes it would be a “disaster” for the sport if racing was cancelled after continuing his good run of form with a winner at Kelso on Monday – the first British meeting to be run behind closed doors due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon outlined measures north of the border following a Cobra meeting in London last Thursday, which included cancelling mass gatherings of more than 500 people in an attempt to delay the spread of Covid-19.

The following day it was confirmed Kelso’s National Hunt fixture would be staged without paying members of the public being allowed to attend, despite racing continuing in the rest of Britain as normal up to and including Monday’s meetings at Hereford and Southwell.

The British Horseracing Authority announced on Monday afternoon that all meetings in Britain from Tuesday will go behind closed doors, initially until the end of March.

Thomson sincerely hopes racing does continue, rather than being cancelled entirely, as has been the case in other countries.

He said: “I keep saying it, but it’s so important we try to keep racing, even more so for Flat racing than jumps racing.

“It’s a huge industry. Everyone can see what happens on the racecourse, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s horses being trained at home and then there’s all the studs and breeze-up sales.

“It would be a disaster, especially for the Flat industry, if racing is stopped. A lot of them, I don’t know how they’ll survive, as they won’t have any money coming in.

“Hopefully everyone can pull together to try to keep the show on the road.”

On the track, Thomson was delighted to see Duc De Grissay justify 8-11 favouritism in the Watch Racing TV In Stunning HD Novices’ Handicap Chase.

The Berwickshire-based trainer has now saddled four winners from his last four runners following a victory at Newcastle on Saturday and a Sunday double at Carlisle.

“The horses seem to be running really well, which is great,” he added.

Little Rory Mac was another winning odds-on favourite, landing odds of 4-6 for trainer Dr Richard Newland and jockey Sam Twiston-Davies in the William Hill Leading Racecourse Bookmaker Novices’ Hurdle.

Sean Quinlan rode a treble, steering Jennie Candlish’s Bryden Boy (7-2) to success in the Belhaven Brewery Handicap Hurdle before striking gold aboard the Gillian Boanas-trained Crixus’s Escape (13-8 favourite)in the Buy New Timeform Horses To Follow Handicap Chase.

He completed his hat-trick on Candlish’s Golan Cloud (11-2) in the concluding Join Racing TV Now Handicap Hurdle.

Title-chasing Brian Hughes added to his tally on Fergal O’Brien’s 5-2 favourite Proper Ticket in the Belhaven Best Mares’ Novices’ Handicap Hurdle.

Speaking prior to the start of racing, Kelso’s managing director Jonathan Garratt said: “We’re racing today with twin objectives, which are the same objectives as Scottish Government and the wider community – to try to slow the spread of coronavirus, by not having a crowd, essentially, while also trying to keep economic activity going.

“We offer £1.4million of prize-money per season, so there’s a lot of money that goes into the rural economy, which will help fund the trainers who employ the stable staff and employ feed merchants and farriers – a wider group of businesses.

“It’s really essential for us that we’re able to give money to them so people can stay employed. We’re all going to have to work together if we’re going to get through the next few months of this virus-stricken country.”

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