Local lad returns to Kelso

A preview of the action at Kelso on Sunday, where Tom Hamilton and Stuart Crawford are among those hoping the meeting beats the weather.

Aeglos and Tom Hamilton in winning action at Leopardstown.

Tom Hamilton, now based in Ireland with Joseph O'Brien, returns to his roots to ride Cave Hunter in the Eildon Hill Stables Open Hunters' Chase at Kelso.

The 21-year-old from Hawick partners the two-time course winner, one of only two horses trained by his mother Wendy Hamilton.

Hamilton, younger brother of conditional pilot Jamie, rode his first winner in Ireland at Leopardstown on Boxing Day when scoring on Aeglos in the J P McManus colours.

The amateur said: "It was a great day, especially to ride for the likes of Mr McManus, Charlie Swan and Joseph's dad Aidan.

"I intend to remain an amateur and I've been doing a bit of auctioneering at Goffs to keep my eye in for that career. Cave Hunter has been a real star and I've won three hunter chases and seven point to points on him.

"The soft ground isn't ideal for his first run of the season but he likes Kelso and he has to start somewhere. It's a seriously hot race with some southern runners but hopefully he will run well."

Colin Tizzard's first course runner, Grand Vision, is in a strong line-up that also includes Black Thunder ridden by Gold Cup-winning rider Sam Waley-Cohen.

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Fine Rightly, third to the mighty Douvan at Cork last month, is the class act in the £25,000 Royal Caledonian Hunt Handicap Chase.

Stuart Crawford's raider will take all the beating despite conceding lumps of weight all round.

Fine Rightly finished third in last season's Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown before going on to win his next two starts over fences at Down Royal and Cork.

He then went on his summer break, making a promising return to action over hurdles at Navan in November, before finishing third behind Douvan in the Hilly Way Chase at Cork.

Crawford was a little disappointed with his latest performance in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown, but he faces a significantly easier task in the Royal Caledonian Hunt Handicap Chase.

"All being well he'll be there, as long as the weather holds out, and it looks a good opportunity for him," said the County Antrim-based trainer.

"He struggled a wee bit in the Lexus, but we've been struggling to get his ground and struggling for options.

"Before the Lexus we had to run him against Douvan as there wasn't really anywhere else to go with him over fences and we wanted to get a run into him.

"He seems in good form, so fingers crossed for Sunday."

Fine Rightly will have to concede weight to each of his six rivals in the two-mile-five-furlong contest, although his burden is lessened by the 7lb claim of the trainer's brother, Ben.

"Ben hasn't ridden much on the track as he's struggled with his weight. He's a bit like me, he likes his food," said Crawford.

"He must have ridden 70 or 80 point-to-point winners, though, and he rides this horse at home every day, so I've no worries on that score."

Fine Rightly's opponents include the Nicky Richards-trained Bernardelli and Spanish Fleet from George Bewley's stable.

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