THERE couldn’t have been a more perfect evening to kick-off the biggest week in Galashiels’ calendar.

The Braw Lads’ Gathering has already seen a packed schedule with Spurs Night, Threepwood and the Braw Lads’ Sports Day all taking place to name just a few. And on Monday the countdown to Braw Lads’ Day officially started, with the traditional ride out to Lindean in glorious sunshine.

Braw Lad Greg Kelly and Braw Lass Kimberley O’May led the cavalcade from Netherdale to the historic Lindean Cross, where the annual service was given by Reverend Elspeth Harley.

Greg laid a wreath on Preachers Cross, before the cavalcade returned to Galashiels via Hollybush for the most eagerly anticipated part of the night – The Chase. There is always friendly rivalry and it was no different this year, with crowds gathering to cheer the riders on. Ex-Braw Lass Alex Mundell managed to claim top spot in the Principals’ Race for the second year in a row.

President of the Gathering Bill White was delighted with how the ride-out went, and with the soaring temperatures – which reached 20 degrees celcius.

He told us: “It has been an absolutely wonderful night. The sun is shining down on us now.

“It’s great that the Gathering is now officially under way and we are all getting ready for Saturday. The preparations are going well – we have all got our speeches sorted and we are all ready to go. It has been a great night tonight. We were debating how many riders there were, but it looks like somewhere in the region of 145 or 150, which makes it one of the best nights we have had here as far as the number of horses are concerned. Overall we are really pleased with how it is going and we are all looking forward to Wednesday – the next big one – and then obviously Saturday.

“The weather is forecast to be good for the rest of the week, so we are keeping our fingers crossed we get it like we have today on Braw Lads’ Day.”

The Chase results:

The Principals Race – Alex Mundell; Ex-Principals Race – Graeme Howlieson (25th Year Braw Lad); Visiting Principals Race – Peter Forrest (Selkirk Standard Bearer); Gents Race – Thomas Willmott; Pony Race – Sarah McGhee from Selkirk; Ladies Race – Hilda McLennan from Annan and Over 45s Race – Frank Johnston from Annan.