IT'S official, Borders national hunt star Shades of Midnight is the leading staying hurdler in the country.

And it concludes a remarkable rags to riches story.

The nine-old is owned by the local Potassium Partnership.

Bred from a mare that only cost 1,100gns back in 2004, Shady was reared in the back field of Jane and Sandy Bannerman's home at Hawick.

Their son Rory had bought Hannah Park from Doncaster Bloodstock Sales.

She had won on the flat in Germany and then over hurdles in the UK for local trainer Peter Monteith.

But neither Rory nor his racing business partner, brother Nick, could have envisaged what lay in store for one of the five foals they produced from Hannah Park.

Owned by the 12-strong Potassium Partnership - which is made up of Rory, Nick and their parents, as well as Colin Brown, Ian Walker, Keith Rennie, John Carruthers, Duncan Swanston, Belinda Nunn, Neil Goddin, Robert Hayne and Paul Reid - Shady has become one of the forces in graded hurdling.

Nick told us: "Our mare produced five offspring and the three who made the racecourse all won races with Shady being the best.

"He was initially trained by Donald Whillans near Hawick then moved to Sandy Thomson at Lambden in January, 2018.

"I played rugby against Sandy for a few years in the '80s at Hawick vs Kelso and we were hugely impressed by his training methods, his understanding of the horses and owners' needs and excellent facilities at his stables near Greenlaw.

"Sandy has found the key to Shady and even at nine years old he’s improved markedly to become one of the top staying hurdles in the country."

In his first race for the Thomson yard, Shady finished third in the Grade 2 Towton Chase at Wetherby.

He also faired well at Cheltenham during the festival.

After an encouraging run at Ayr to kick start the 2018/19 season, he won the the Grade 2 Rendlesham Hurdle at Haydock in February by an impressive eight lengths.

And he was agonisingly pipped at the post by Cheltenham Stayers Hurdle winner Paisley Park in his next outing at Haydock.

Nick added: "Unfortunately Shady picked up a slight strain winning the Rendlesham so missed Aintree, but he will be campaigned next Spring in the top UK and Irish staying hurdle races… not bad for a Borders home bred horse owned by a passionate group of friends living their dream."