Self-described as, “Britain’s friendliest racecourse”, Kelso is certainly a relaxed, affordable and fun day out for the entire family. Dedicated to National Hunt racing, this track offers jump meets from September through May and a warm welcome to all visitors.
Kelso is a hugely relaxed racecourse, unblemished by the accusations of elitism that plague some alternatives. Based in the small market town of Kelso, it is right on the border of England and Scotland.
The track itself with is left-handed and largely flat running, with hurdles evenly placed. Sadly, this means that some horses can struggle to clear these jumps. Chases, in particular, can see accidents occur.
Kelso is not an easy course to negotiate, and it’s best to avoid laying any wager on a novice runner. The key thing to look out for is stamina. The run-in to the finish line is short, but there’s a sharp turn and final jump that can take many horses by surprise. Races often go down to the wire, and leaders can change in the blink of an eye.
There is no dress code at Kelso, beyond the typical requests to remain tasteful. The biggest priority should be weather-appropriate attire. As Kelso’s race meets primarily unfold over the autumn and winter, it can grow cold and wet at the track.
Kelso has been hosting racing events since the 1734, at a course some five miles from the current location known as Caverton Edge.
That site has long been demolished and built over, but the existing course – informally referred to as Berrymoss, and formerly called The Duke’s Course – was first build in 1822.
Aside from an attempted arson attack in the name of the suffragette movement in 1913, Kelso has enjoyed a calm and unremarkable history. It hosted flat meets until 1888, when the National Hunt rules are implemented. Since then, the course has hosted cosy but enjoyable jump meets for visitors of all ages.
Main Races and Meetings
Kelso’s race meet season begins in September and concludes the following May. There are a wide range of events and themed days at the track throughout this period.
September – Kelso marks the dawn of a new racing season with a Charity Evening. As the name suggests, various good causes are funded during the course of this celebration, in addition to multiple National Hunt races.
October – The Borderfest Raceday, a Saturday afternoon festival of National Hunt racing, is the highlight of October. Food, drink and music all accompany this fabulous day at the races.
November – November at Kelso is defined by the Wishing Well Chase Day, perhaps unsurprisingly headlined by the Wishing Well Handicap Chase.
December – The calendar year at Kelso ends with a bang. The Borders National Festive Family Day at the start of the month is a delight for all ages, including a visit from Santa Claus. Immediately prior to Hogmanay, there is also the Festive Fling to see out the year in style.
January – Things start to calm down in January. This month simply hosts two standard afternoon National Hunt race meets.
February – February sees one standard National Hunt meet and Premier Hurdle Day, which is headlined by the Morebattle Hurdle and the Premier Chase. Premier Hurdle Day is arguably the biggest event in the Kelso calendar.
March – One standard National Hunt meet and a second event, dubbed the Party in the Paddock, unfold in March. The latter is part of the Go North racing weekend, during which under 18s attend free and visits to training yards are available. Party in the Paddock is headlined by the Premier Kelso Hurdle.
April – April is a quiet month, with just one standard National Hunt racing meet.
May – May starts with a typical National Hunt racing meet early on the month, but Ladies Day – and all the pomp and ceremony that surrounds such an occasion – rounds off the season toward the end of spring.
Be sure to investigate that a racing event is going ahead before making arrangements and check an official fixture list released by Kelso Racecourse directly. All race meets are subject to change due to a wide array of external circumstances.
The official correspondence address of Kelso Racecourse is:
How to Get There
Kelso is located right on the Scottish border, so it’s comparatively simple to reach from both North and South. The post code for Sat Nav is the same as the correspondence address – TD5 7SX.
If you’re travelling from England or Wales, head toward Newcastle. Leave the A1 and get onto the A696. Follow this road for a little under 30 miles, then turn right onto the A68. Eventually, you’ll need to take the A698, then the A6089 at a roundabout. The racecourse is around a mile beyond this exit. From Edinburgh, you’ll need to get onto the A68 then the A697. Eventually, you’ll need to turn onto the A6089. The track is signposted from here.
Public transport is a little trickier. As Kelso is a small town, it does not have a dedicated train station. You’d need to travel into Tweedbank via Edinburgh. From here, you can take the Trace2Track shuttle service to Kelso Racecourse. This costs £6 and must be booked in advance. If you prefer, you can take a bus directly into Kelso from Berwick-Upon-Tweed or Galashiels.
Kelso Racecourse has three substantial hotels within a mile of its grounds. Your first ports of call should be the Cross Keys Hotel (found in the heart of Kelso), The Queen’s Head (a pub, but breakfast is included in the price of your stay) or Ednam House (slightly costlier but boasting some stunning views).
If you’re prepared to spend a bigger, travel further and embrace some luxury, take a look at the Schloss Roxburghe Hotel. This castle-sized accommodation boasts its own golf course and a truly Scottish hospitality experience. It’s around four miles from the racecourse though, so you’ll need a designated driver.
Other Events at the Course
Kelso Racecourse is too small to really host any major external events outside of racing meets. You will not find major music performances or similar events unfolding here. However, the venue is available for private hire.
Kelso Racecourse is a popular destination for weddings, parties and corporate events. The scenic surroundings certainly make for a pleasant environment. If you’re keen to pair up two sports into one visit, you can also visit the adjoining Kelso Golf Club and hit a few balls.
Punters and race-goers love to keep up with the weather to predict going conditions, as well as making sure what they wear is suitable. Here’s the current weather forecast for Kelso:
Our team as of July 2020 have reviewed these racecourse that are definitely worth a visit:
- Aintree Racecourse Guide
- Ascot Racecourse Guide
- Ayr Racecourse Guide
- Bangor on Dee Racecourse
- Bath Racecourse Guide
- Beverley Racecourse Guide
- Brighton Racecourse Guide
- Carlisle Racecourse Guide
- Cartmel Racecourse
- Catterick Racecourse Guide
- Chelmsford City Racecourse Guide
- Cheltenham Racecourse Guide
- Chepstow Racecourse Guide
- Chester Racecourse Guide
- Curragh Racecourse Guide
- Doncaster Racecourse Guide
- Downpatrick Racecourse Guide
- Dundalk Racecourse Guide
- Epsom Racecourse Guide
- Exeter Racecourse Guide
- Fakenham Racecourse
- Ffos Las Racecourse Guide
- Fontwell Racecourse Guide
- Galway Racecourse Guide
- Goodwood Racecourse Guide
- Great Yarmouth Racecourse Guide
- Hamilton Park Racecourse Guide
- Haydock Racecourse Guide
- Hereford Racecourse Guide
- Hexham Racecourse Guide
- Huntingdon Racecourse Guide
- Kelso Racecourse Guide
- Kempton Park Racecourse Guide
- Leicester Racecourse Guide
- Leopardstown Racecourse Guide
- Lingfield Park Racecourse Guide
- Ludlow Racecourse
- Market Rasen Racecourse Guide
- Musselburgh Racecourse Guide
- Naas Racecourse Guide
- Navan Racecourse Guide
- Newbury Racecourse Guide
- Newcastle Racecourse Guide
- Newmarket Racecourse Guide
- Newton Abbot Racecourse Guide
- Nottingham Racecourse Guide
- Perth Racecourse Guide
- Plumpton Racecourse Guide
- Pontefract Racecourse
- Redcar Racecourse Guide
- Ripon Racecourse Guide
- Salisbury Racecourse Guide
- Sandown Racecourse Guide
- Sedgefield Racecourse
- Southwell Racecourse Guide
- Stratford Racecourse Guide
- Taunton Racecourse Guide
- Thirsk Racecourse Guide
- Towcester Racecourse
- Uttoxeter Racecourse Guide
- Warwick Racecourse Guide
- Wetherby Racecourse Guide
- Wincanton Racecourse Guide
- Windsor Racecourse Guide
- Wolverhampton Racecourse Guide
- Worcester Racecourse Guide
- York Racecourse Guide