The Ultimate Guide to Ayr Racecourse

Ayr Racecourse is set in 155 acres of land on the west coast of Scotland, 40 miles from Glasgow and 90 miles from Edinburgh. Today, Ayr is the only Grade 1 racecourse in Scotland and stages high quality Flat and National Hunt racing all year round, including the Ayr Gold Cup and Scottish Grand National Festivals.The history of racing at Ayr can be traced back to 1576, but the first properly organised meeting didn't take place until nearly two hundred years later, in 1771. The first Ayr Gold Cup, which has since become the most valuable sprint handicap in Europe, was run in 1804, but National Hunt racing didn't arrive at Ayr until 1950 and it wasn't until 1966 that the Scottish National was transferred to Ayr following the closure of Bogside Racecourse.Admission prices at Ayr Racecourse are £21 in the Club enclosure and £15 in the Grandstand enclosure. Ayr Racecourse has a state-of-the-art conference and events centre and, together with the adjacent Western House Hotel, forms the largest conference centre anywhere outside a major city in Scotland.The conference centre offers a total of eleven suites, the largest of which can accommodate up to 1,000 delegates and each suite is equipped with high quality audio/visual equipment, including large plasma TV screens. A dedicated events management team is on hand to make sure that conferences, exhibitions and meetings run smoothly.[column width=”40%” padding=”5%”]

Getting there

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What's unique about the Ayr course?

The round course at Ayr is a left-handed oval, roughly a mile and half in circumference with gentle undulations throughout. The Ayr Gold Cup is run on a straight, wide 6-furlong course.Over Jumps, there are nine fences per circuit, with a steady descent to the home turn and a steady climb to the winning post on the 210 yard run-in. Overall, the Jumps track can be described as fairly galloping, although it can be quite sharp when the going is firm. [/column][end_columns]

Ayr Gold Cup

The inaugural running of the Ayr Gold Cup may have taken place in 1804, but the original contest, run over 2 miles in two separate heats, bears little resemblance to the modern race, run over a straight 6 furlongs each September. The Ayr Gold Cup invariably attracts a maximum field and horses balloted out of the race contest a consolation race, the Ayr Silver Cup, over the same course and distance on the same day.Thomas Dawson, eldest of the four Dawson brothers, who were one of the most successful families in the history of British horse racing, trained an astonishing 15 winners of the Ayr Gold Cup between 1835 and 1869.Although some way behind his 19th century counterpart, David “Dandy” Nicholls is, by far, the most successful trainer in recent years, with six winners since the turn of the century. The longest-priced winner of the Ayr Gold Cup in recent years was Mike O'Neill's Joveworth, who started at 50/1 in 1989 and the shortest-priced winners was David Barron's Coastal Bluff, who went off 3/1 favourite in 1996, having already won the Stewards' Cup at Goodwood. Just one horse, Dazzle in 1889, 1890 and 1891, has ever won the Ayr Gold Cup three times.

Scottish Grand National

The Scottish Grand National, run over 4 miles 110 yards each April, is the major National Hunt race run at Ayr. Its proximity to the Grand National at Aintree means that it is difficult for horses to win both races. However, Red Rum won the Grand National in 1974 carrying 12 stone and, just three weeks later, won the Scottish Grand National carrying 11st 13lb. Red Rum remains the only horse to have ever completed the double in the same year and is commemorated with a statue at Ayr Racecourse.The most successful trainers in the Scottish Grand National in recent years were Neville Crump and Ken Oliver with five wins apiece and the most successful jockey was Mark Dwyer, who won back-to-back Scottish Grand Nationals on Jimmy Fitzgerald's Androma in 1984 and 1985 and another on David Nicholson's Moorcroft Boy in 1996.

Top Owners, Jockeys and Trainers

AP McCoy, in JP McManus' colours (credit: danheap77)

On the Flat at Ayr, Paul Hanagan is the leading jockey during the last five seasons, with 36 winners from 170 rides in that period, Mrs. H. Steel is the most successful owner with 8 winners from 30 runners and Richard Fahey is the most successful trainer with 50 winners from 305 runners.Under National Hunt Rules, Peter Buchanan is the leading jockey, with 24 winners from 153 rides, Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Anderson Green are the leading owners, with 12 winners from 61 runners and Lucinda Russell is leading trainer, with 35 winners from 240 runners. However, Donald McCain has a highly respectable 31% strike rate at Ayr over the last five seasons and has trained 34 winners from 108 runners.Over the Jumps, J.P. McManus is the leading owner with 11 winners from 51 runners. McManus' retained jockey, Tony McCoy, is the leading jockey with 27 winners from 93 rides and Seven Barrows trainer Nicky Henderson, who trains several McManus-owned horses, is the leading trainer with 35 winners from 149 runners.

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