Ayr Racecourse News
Scotland's Premier Racecourse
BIG PRIZE-MONEY ON OFFER AT AYR
Coming as it does just a few days before the start of the Cheltenham Festival this fixture always attracts a bit of attention and this year sees a significant boost in the prize-money on offer with more than £140,000 up for grabs over the two days.
Friday’s feature race is the Class 3 totesport.com handicap chase run over two miles for and a half furlongs, a contest won last year by the Nick Alexander trained Gold Opera.
Other interesting races on the card include the toteexacta handicap hurdle over two miles four and a half furlongs and the two mile handicap hurdle which is run for the James Barclay Trophy.
Saturday’s card is dominated by three Class 3 contests – the Tennent’s Lager Handicap Chase over two miles and half a furlong, the Caledonia Best Handicap Hurdle for the Craigie Cup which is run over two miles four and a half furlongs and the Magners Handicap Chase for the Hugh Barclay Challenge Trophy which is a three mile race.
The Craigie Cup was won in 2017 by Desert Cry, trained by Donald McCain and ridden by Brian Hughes and this trainer and jockey combination are likely to have several fancied runners on the day.
The first race on Friday is at 1.50pm with the action under way at 2.10pm on Saturday.
For more information on racing at Ayr go online at www.ayr-racecourse.co.uk or call 01292 264179.
Brilliant sunshine, a sell-out Saturday crowd, top class racing and fantastic entertainment combined to make the 2015 Coral Scottish Grand National Festival at Ayr Racecourse a huge success.
The huge crowd of 16,500 on Saturday witnessed a memorable running of the £210,000 Coral Scottish Grand National with Wayward Prince, a 25/1 shot holding on gamely to win by three quarters of a length from the fast finishing Irish raider Goonyella.
A delighted owner and trainer Hilary Parrott had decided last year to move the horse from trainer Ian Williams to her own small yard and admitted : "The change of scenery did him good. He loved the ground and was always travelling well."
And winning jockey Robert Dunne commented : "I thought when they came to me before the last I was going to get beaten but he kept sticking out his neck and battled all the way to the line.
"It's a huge day for me and my biggest ever win. I had to lose nine pounds to make the weight so feel a bit weak at the moment but it was all worthwhile."
After the last flight it looked as if the Nicky Henderson horse Sign Of A Victory would win but a fighting display by Cheltenian saw him hold on by a neck.
Duke Of Navan won the Scotty Brand Handicap Chase under an ultra-confident Brian Harding ride confirming the jockey as the leading rider at the track for the 2014-2015 jumps season with Lucinda Russell top trainer and Paul and Clare Rooney top owners.
Friday's highlight was the Listed Hillhouse Quarry Handicap Chase and this was won by course specialists Presenting Junior winning at Ayr for the fourth time this season for owners Mr and Mrs Wilson Garnet, trainer Martin Todhunter and jockey Wilson Renwick.
Reflection on a highly successful Festival Ayr Racecourse Managing Director David Brown commented : "The two days saw some excellent racing with some exciting finishes and we were blessed with some fantastic weather.
"The atmosphere was good with everyone enjoying themselves and joining in the occasion. I thank everyone for their support."
Sep 23 Jockey James Doyle was the star of the show at the 2014 William Hill Ayr Gold Cup Festival, winning both the Gold and Silver Cups.
The southern based rider steered last year's big race runner up Louis The Pious to land gold around an hour after he tasted silver success on the Roger Charlton trained Huntsmans Close.
He wrote his name into the record books when Louis The Pious won as no jockey has achieved the double before and he showed his delight as the David O'Meara 10/1 chance crossed the line.
James also captured the opening race, the QTS Handicap on Power Play for Richard Hannon making it a treble on his first visit to the track in seven years.
Graham Lee was another jockey at the top of his game riding Dark Reckoning to win the William Hill Firth of Clyde Stakes for trainer Ann Duffield at odds of 25/1 and then partnering the Saeed bin Suroor trained Sky Hunter, the 9/4 favourite, to land the William Hill 80th Anniversary Book Launch Doonside Cup.
And Graham was also among the winners earlier in the week winning the Nursery Handicap on Roosey for Willie Haggas on Friday and landing the Wallace McDowall Handicap on Orient Class on Thursday.
Keith Dalgleish was the only Scottish trainer on the scoresheet -Harrison's Cave, ridden by Joe Fanning, won the Grants Fruit Merchants Prestwick Handicap on Thursday and Beautiful Stranger took the Enterprise Screen 10 Years of Video Handicap on Friday.
Thursday's prestigious William Hill Handicap for the Kilkerran Cup was won by Fire Fighting, trained by Mark Johnston and ridden by Joe Fanning.
Johnnie Delta Land Owners Championship
Johnnie Delta Racing captured the Owners Championship for the 2013-2014 jumps season at Ayr by a point from Mrs S Russell and Mr M Russell in a dramatic finish to the season on April 12.
It was a superb achievement for the Johnnie Delta team as they also won the 2013 Flat Owners title at the track and all their points in the jumps title chase were earned by one horse - Too Cool To Fool who won the Porcelanosa Scotland Novices' Limited Handicap Chase on Friday.
That left the Russells needing their horse Final Assault to win the opening race on Friday to tie the title but it could only finish second to Silsol.
The leading trainer award was won by Lucinda Russell with Jim Goldie runner up while in the Jockeys title Brian Hughes edged out Brian Harding by three points.
Crowds of more than 15,000 flocked to Ayr Racecourse on Saturday, April 12, for the Coral Scottish Grand National which produced a shock 40/1 winner Al Co for trainer Peter Bowen and jockey Jamie Moore.
Ten in a Row for Super Ayr 07/01/14
Ayr Racecourse has been voted the Best Racecourse in Scotland and the North East for 2013 by the Racegoers' Club.
It is the tenth successive year that the track has been awarded the prestigious accolade which is voted on by a 4,500 strong membership and other winners for 2013 include York, Chester, Cheltenham and Ascot
Ayr has now won the award an astonishing 20 times in all and the course's Sales and Marketing Manager Lindsey Smith said: "It is a great honour to be once again the recipient of this award. When one considers the competition we have from other tracks in our region it makes this a particularly pleasing accolade.
"Those who vote are all regular racegoers so for them to take the time and choose Ayr proves we must be getting things right. We are all delighted."
William Hill Extend Ayr Gold Cup Sponsorship 20/11/13
William Hill have extended their sponsorship of Scotland’s richest and most prestigious flat meeting the Ayr Gold Cup Festival by three years until September 2016. more
Highland Colori Lands Ayr Gold Cup Prize 21/09/13
Highland Colori turned what looked a competitive William Hill Ayr Gold Cup into a rout, running out a convincing winner for the rising star of the weighing room Oisin Murphy. more
All Time Record Crowd for Coral Scottish Grand National 20/04/13
The sun shone and the crowds flocked to Ayr Racecourse for the 2013 Coral Scottish Grand National Festival last weekend.
More than 18,300 - beating the previous record of 17,200 in 2002 - enjoyed a great day on Saturday and there was a real feel good atmosphere throughout the crowd.
A Beatles tribute band played during the afternoon in the Tented Village within the Grandstand while a jazz band performed on the Champagne lawns and there was both live music and a disco after racing.
The Club Enclosure was sold out about an hour before the first race and there wasn't a space to be had either in Hospitality.
Ayr Racecourse Sales and Marketing Manager Lindsey Smith commented : "On so many levels this was our most successful day yet. Recording our biggest ever crowd was a huge boost."
Racecourse Award for Isle Of Skye Whisky 01/11/12
A leading Scotch whisky has won a coveted award at the prestigious Piper-Heidsieck National Racecourse Catering Awards. more
Captain Ramius Sails Home in Ayr Gold Cup 22/09/12
The Kevin Ryan trained Captain Ramius had already flown when a late charge from Regal Parade claimed second place in the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup, the richest sprint handicap in Europe. more
Sun Shines on Massive Scottish National Crowd 21/04/12
Celebrities from the world of sport and television mingled with one of the biggest crowds in living memory at a sun drenched Ayr Racecourse on Saturday (April 21). more
Ayr Racing 2011 Review 08/12/11
Jockeys Richard Johnson and Franny Norton grabbed the headlines at Ayr Racecourse in 2011 riding the winners of the Coral Scottish Grand National and William Hill Ayr Gold Cup respectively.
And for both riders it was the first time they had won the biggest races in the Scottish racing calendar.
For Johnson in particular the win was sweet. It was his 14th ride in the race and he gave the Tim Vaughan trained Beshabar, a 15/2 shot, a superb ride to hold off the 2010 winner Merigo all the way up the run in.
Merigo's owner Raymond Anderson Green was magnanimous in defeat and for Vaughan it was a defining moment in a great season.
Franny Norton donned the colours of owner Dr Marwan Koukash successful with Redford in 2010. This time the horse was Our Jonathan and when Norton steered the Kevin Ryan trained charge to the front entering the final furlong the result was never in doubt and favourite Eton Rifles was a well beaten horse in second place.
Dr Koukash commented afterwards : "I am so glad I came up this year, I missed last year's so it is great to be up here. Great course, great people, great result. We left at six this morning to be here and I don't think we'll go back till six o'clock tomorrow morning now."
Both Ayr's feature meetings in 2011 earned rave reviews from some of the biggest names in the sport. David Pipe heaped praise on the track following the Coral Scottish Grand National and the normally hard to please David 'Dandy' Nicholls commented : "The Clerk of the Course got it spot on" during the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup Festival.
Ayr Racecourse had started the year celebrating two awards. First up was the Racecourse of the Year 2010 for Scotland and the North East by The Racegoers Club - the seventh consecutive year the course has won this coveted award.
And then Clerk of the Course Emma Marley and her grounds team won one of the most prestigious honours in the racing industry - the Neil Wyatt Ground Staff Award for the Best Dual Purpose Course.
This was only the second time Ayr has received this recognition - having previously been successful in 1996, the inaugural year of the award.
After a much interrupted 2010 at the track with six abandonments Ayr lost only two meetings in 2011 - one in February and one in November.
Highest attendance of the year came when more than 15,000 attended the Coral Scottish Grand National Saturday and were treated to some memorable racing particularly the aforementioned duel between Beshaber and Merigo.
Other highlights included the Isle of Skye Blended Whisky Scottish Champion Hurdle which was won by the Paul Nicholls trained, Ruby Walsh ridden Sanctuaire (9/2 jt fav). There was also a win for Gilbarry (8/1) in the Scottish Sun Future Champion Novices Chase.
And on the Friday the Hillhouse Quarry Handicap Chase went to the Ferdy Murphy trained Watch My back (14/1) ridden by Graham Lee.
The first flat action of the 2011 season at Ayr came via a double header in May quickly followed by Saints and Sinners Racenight and the Scottish Sun Raceday in June.
The June Saturday normally provides quality racing and this year was no exception - the feature race of the afternoon, the Scottish News Of The World EBF 'Major Cadeaux' Land O'Burns Fillies' (Listed Race) was won by the favourite Margot Did in the hands of top lady jockey Hayley Turner.
And there was success for Irvine born jockey David Allan on Mariachi Man in the Scottish Sun Handicap for trainer Tim Easterby.
Champion jockey Paul Hanagan underlined his status by riding 14 winners from 61 mounts at Ayr during the flat season including several at the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup Festival.
All in all a good year for Ayr Racecourse with many highlights and with 2012 looming there's much to look forward to.
Our Jonathan Takes Gold at Ayr 17/09/11
Our Jonathan gave owner Dr Marwan Koukash back-to-back victories in the William Hill Gold Cup at Ayr. more
Beshabar Bags Scottish Grand National Glory 16/04/11
Cheltenham Festival runner-up Beshabar went one place better with a terrific performance from the front in the Coral Scottish Grand National at Ayr. more
Racing Boost for Scottish Charities 08/03/11
Scottish charities received a shot in the arm from last year's busiest ever Saints and Sinners Racenight at Ayr Racecourse. more
Seven Up for Ayr Racecourse 07/12/10
Magnificent seven! Ayr Racecourse has been voted Racecourse of the Year 2010 for Scotland and the North East by The Racegoers Club for an incredible seventh consecutive year. more
Frankie Strikes Gold on Redford 18/09/10
Dandy Nicholls and Frankie Dettori teamed up for one of the most popular successes in the history of the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup as the Thirsk trainer incredibly saddled his sixth winner of the six-furlong dash. more
Iris De Balme Bags Shock Scottish National Win
Iris De Balme produced an extraordinary performance to land the Coral Scottish Grand National at Ayr. more