For no matter what filled the heavens, the sky was the limit for the Kelso athlete as he climbed towards winning the main event on the Peebles programme – the 110m handicap.
Coached by Adie Gray, 22-year-old Neil first showed his mettle when racing through the tape in the opening heat of the event in a fairly slow 12.59 seconds.
The following heats brought about similar good wins, but the times were again slow. Something was amiss, but after great confusion the mystery was solved, the track had been measured incorrectly and ran for 120m instead of 110m.
It was decided the results would stand and instead of the fastest losers qualifying for the cross-ties, athletes who had come in second would be put into the semi-finals.
Neil (7m) put all this upheaval behind him by blitzing his way through his cross-tie.
Footballer Neil, who had signed for Kelso United in midweek, then did it all again.
Facing Selkirk’s Craig Bruce (8.5m), Ryan Houten of Cardrona (7m), Eoin Lowther of Jedburgh (8m), Greg Turnbull of TLJT (3m) and David Lauder of Hawick (13.5m) he soared home in the final. Lauder coming in second and Bruce third.
A smiling Neil said: “I have been trying hard for a while but I have never won a sprint in the Borders before.
“Four weeks ago I wouldn’t have thought this possible as I was on crutches after having pulled my left quad. I have managed to recover though and I am very glad that I did.
“It’s a good feeling and I have to thank my coach Adie Gray and John Fleming and Matthew Fleming for helping me to do it.”
Supersonic Dylan Ali conjured up his third win in successive weeks when taking pride of place in the one-lap event.
And the 19-year-old Hawick Sprint Club man didn’t need a magic wand to achieve victory. Sheer powerhouse running was the name of his act. Competing from a back mark of 7m, Ali surged to a top-notch win.
“I enjoy running in the sprints, but I prefer races like the one-lap as the distance suits me better,” he said.
Alistair Laurie (360m) chalked up his second win of the term in the 1,600m. The Selkirk front runner maintained his place and held off a challenge from Jordan Taylor of Hawick (120m) in the latter stages.
John Thomson of Glenrothes (190m), a master technician in judging the flow in a race, got things spot on in winning the 3,200m, while in the 800m, Connor Henderson of Kilbarchan (50m), a newcomer to the Borders circuit, emerged a clear winner.
As has been the pattern throughout the opening weeks of the season, the junior/youths’ events brought about some exciting racing as well as unveiling a wealth of up-and-coming young talent.
Ten year old Kacey Taitt of TLJT (30m) followed up her recent junior 200m win at Selkirk by doing the business in the junior 90m.
Victory in the youths’ 90m went the way of Nial Smith of Eastcraigs (3m).
Back marker Michael Girdler (40m) shone in winning the junior one-lap through some excellent running.
In the youth’s one lap, Kelso’s Josh Abbot (27m) pulled out the stops to take the honours.
Following a thrilling duel metres from the end, Hawick’s Fraser Clyne (205m) edged out Jack Amos of Jedburgh (215m) on the line to gain his third win of the season in the youths’ 1,600m.