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18 July 2019

Kelso’s Managing Director Jonathan Garratt talks about how his forward-thinking racecourse understands the value of encouraging the community to look back through the new Reminiscence Days.

Different characteristics offer rich choice

A number of years ago, when I was working for Scottish Racing Marketing Ltd, we produced a celebratory selection of hand-made chocolate truffles – each truffle laced with whisky from a different distillery specifically chosen to represent the character of the five Scottish racecourses.

So while Ayr was represented by a West Coast island malt, Perth’s chocolate truffle was flavoured with a zesty spirit from the Highlands, Musselburgh’s with a full bodied grain whisky and Hamilton Park with a sweet malt which harboured hints of bubble-gum and seemed appropriate to the summer season.

But the Kelso whisky truffle was my favourite. Incorporating the peaty flavours imparted by whisky from the Laphroaig distillery, each truffle evoked that unique pleasure to be derived from sitting next to the smoky fire in the upstairs bar of the Listed Grandstand on a cold winter’s raceday.

Whisky syndicate scheme to aid Racing Welfare

The Borders Distillery, which opened just over a year ago in Hawick, sponsored for the first time at Kelso Racecourse in May. Now we’re offering racegoers the opportunity to share in our own cask syndicate scheme. A 10% share in a cask of whisky costs just £199.50 and could yield around thirty of bottles of whisky when it is bottled in ten years’ time (when duty will also have to be paid on the alcohol, at the prevailing rate, to HMRC).

Just like Britain’s racecourses, each cask of whisky will have a unique character depending on the type of wood used to make the cask and its previous contents. The Borders Distillery has pledged to give £158 to Racing Welfare for every full cask which is syndicated by Kelso Racecourse.

The simplicity of cakes for causes

One of the things that I love most about horseracing in Britain is that every racecourse has a unique personality – and Kelso’s just happens to be one of the most endearing. It isn’t an overly fancy racecourse, although many of the horses that appear here are top-drawer. And the atmosphere is welcoming, an observation that led to the oft quoted accolade that Kelso is ‘Britain’s friendliest racecourse’.

Kelso’s Charity Tearoom in action, supporting Headway UK

We’ve always worked closely with the local community and one of the most popular features of a Kelso race-day, enjoyed by our regular customers, is the Charity Tea Room. Designated to a different charity at each race-meeting, the Tea Room offers home-baked produce at affordable prices, with all the proceeds going to good causes.

Open house for our Reminiscence Days

In addition to planning events for the next jump racing season, which starts at Kelso on 10th September, we’re scheduling three Reminiscence Days on non-racedays. We hope that racing enthusiasts from across the Scottish Borders will drop in at the racecourse to enjoy and share conversations about horseracing in the past: the characters, the horses, the great races and any other memories that might be shared over a cup of tea and a slice of cake.

The sessions will be open to everyone – so please do drop in if you’re nearby.

To find out more you can get in touch with Kelso here: Photo (top of page) shows Jonathan taking part in a litter pick as part of Racing Together Community Day; racing’s national day of volunteering earlier this year.

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