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Lucinda sets new target

SCOTLAND'S leading National Hunt trainer Lucinda Russell has set a personal target of setting a new Scottish record for winners, at least to match Len Lungo's record of 63 winners in the 2002/03 season.

At the time of writing Lucinda has already got 27 winners, and has vowed not to rest until the record is hers.

Last season, Lucinda had 57 winners and with Ayr, Musselburgh and Kelso meetings in the next week, it will give her a chance to increase her total on home soil.

"I was happy enough when we got to 50 last year, then I was told of Len's record, and it wound me up that I didn't achieve it," said Lucinda at the Scottish jumps season media day at Musselburgh.

"This year we'll definitely be going for 63. I won't be sleeping until we achieve that.

"We're very ambitious for the young lads that are riding for us and to make sure they get the best start they can and show their talents as much as they can, and keep racing healthy in Scotland."

For Jim Goldie, whose first winner was at Ayr 20 years ago, he was still on a high after winning at Ascot with Jack Dexter. "I remember my first winner at Ayr like it was yesterday. It's good to go to the big racecourses and get a winner – I felt like I carried Jack Dexter to the winning post, but it's not so good to win after Frankel as no-one hears about it!

"The way racing is going, only fast horses get a run in the spring, you want old chasing types that get through the ground, and you need big, strong horses to get through Ayr and Perth.

"There's many levels to get people interested in racing, you can get the best value for money in Scotland and the facilities up here are as good as anywhere."

Ayr's next meeting is today (Saturday, November 3), for the John Smith's Raceday. The first of seven races starts at 12.50pm and features the £15,000 John Smith's No Nonsense Handicap Chase.

John Smith's Raceday is the first of 10 jumps fixtures at the track over the next six and a half months culminating in the Coral Scottish Grand National Festival on April 19/20. Around £750,000 will be up for grabs at Scotland's premier track during the season – a rise of 20% on the 2011-2012 campaign.

Lindsey Smith, sales and marketing manager at Ayr Racecourse said: "John Smith's Race Day has traditionally been a flat fixture but this year we have elected to start our jumps season a bit earlier than normal and we feel it is a perfect fit to have John Smith's Day as a National Hunt meeting. It is also our last fixture of the year so we are hoping for a large crowd."

Musselburgh Racecourse has introduced a new all-weather bend and is the first UK course to integrate a composite material with a turf track.

The £100,000 investment comprises of a fibresand strip at the winning post bend to ensure consistent ground conditions and greatly improve the safety of horses and jockeys before their first National Hunt day on November 8.

Kelso Racecourse's next meeting is November 10 and the Borders track has £580,000 prize money over the season, with their £70,000 Scottish Borders Grand National Day on December 9 one of the highlights.

Lousie Grey from the racecourse said: "Some of our members have been with us for 30-40 years and they like the changes we've made to the course and the jockeys are happy too.

"There's also the Betfair stable staff award where the best turned out horse in every race at every meeting is awardeded £100."