TEENAGER Greg Kelly stormed to victory at the New Year Sprint at Musselburgh Racecourse.
The 17-year-old, of East Kilbride AC, claimed the £4,000 winner’s prize in front of a bumper 6,000 crowd in the 148th edition of the famous race.
Kelly caught the eye with an impressive performance in his semi-final at Meadowmill last Friday, and went into the final as favourite ahead of Jordan Charters, of Dolphinton in the Borders.
It seemed as though an upset was on the cards until, with 15 metres to go, Kelly took the lead from Charters and, by the finish line, he was two metres clear.
Emily Dagg was third behind Charters, with her TLJT club-mate Cameron Caldwell in fourth place.
There was disappointment for last year’s winner Jazmine Tomlinson – the first female winner in the race’s history – as she failed to make the final this time round.
Frank Hanlon, the event organiser, praised this year’s winner.
He told Courier Sport: “Greg Kelly ran really well – he was very impressive.
“He was clear by a good couple of yards, so it was a very good race.”
The 72-year-old, who has organised the sprint for the last 27 years, was delighted with the event once more.
He added: “It went really well.
“There was a big crowd, I think the biggest ever for New Year’s Day racing at Musselburgh, and that always adds to the atmosphere. We got good weather too, which helped.”
Cameron Tindle, the 2015 winner, also missed out on a place in Sunday’s final, but passed on his congratulations to Kelly through social media.
He tweeted: “Massive congratulations to Greg Kelly for taking this year’s New Year Sprint title, massive achievement!”
Hanlon, who is recovering from two broken legs and a broken wrist in hospital in Edinburgh, was delighted he made it to Musselburgh.
“I had given up [being there] a couple of weeks ago, but I made it down, which was really good,” he said, while adding: “It gave me something to aim towards.”
He is keen to get back on his feet before turning his attention to organising the 149th running of the famous race.
Meanwhile, the horse racing card which ran alongside the sprint also proved a hit.
Superb Story won the feature £40,000 totepool Hogmaneigh Hurdle, and Bill Farnsworth, racecourse chief executive, was delighted. He said: “The day exceeded all expectations and we are delighted with how everything went. We had hoped for around 6,000 but with some fine sunshine and dry conditions, people turned out in numbers and we have the foundations to make this one of Scotland’s best race days.
“We have identified several areas on which we can improve and we will make changes to ensure New Year’s Day at Musselburgh continues to thrive.”