Ayr Racecourse

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Ayr
The Eglinton stands, Ayr race course - geograph.org.uk - 43204.jpg
Location Ayr, Scotland
Date opened 1907
Screened on Racing UK
Course type Flat
National Hunt
Notable races Scottish Grand National
Ayr Gold Cup
Official website

Ayr Racecourse at Whitletts Road, Ayr, Scotland,[1] was opened in 1907.[1] There are courses for flat and for National Hunt racing. The course stages the highest-quality racing and most prestigious races run in Scotland in both codes of the sport.

History[edit]

Horse racing in Ayr dates back to 1576, but the first official meeting did not take place until 1771[2] at a racecourse situated in the Seafield area of the town. This first racecourse was a mile oval with sharp bends.

In the early days, racing was supported by the local landed gentry and members of the Caledonian Hunt. Important figures in the course's history have included the Earl of Eglinton, Sir James Boswell and the Duke of Portland.[2]

In 1824, Ayr's most important race meeting, the Western Meeting, was established and by 1838 it offered £2000 in prize money and the most valuable two year old race of the season in Britain. The meeting's feature race, the Ayr Gold Cup, became a handicap race in 1855 and is now the richest sprint handicap in Europe.[2]

Due to the small size of the track and limitations on the size of the paddock, a new site for the racecourse was eventually sought and in 1907, the course was moved to its current location in the Craigie area of town. After extensive research into other British courses, the new course layout was based on that of Newbury, with the exception that Ayr's straight course is six furlongs rather than a mile.[2] The former racecourse is now playing fields, known as the Old Racecourse, and part of Seafield golf course. Local road names Racecourse Road and Racecourse View also reflect this history.

A jumps track was added in 1950 and in 1966 the Scottish Grand National was transferred to the track after Bogside Racecourse was closed down.[2] It is now regarded as the premier racecourse in Scotland.[3]

Characteristics[edit]

Flat[edit]

Flat races at Ayr are run over the following distances:

  • 5 furlongs
  • 6 furlongs
  • 7 furlongs 50 yards
  • 1 mile
  • 1 mile 1 furlong 20 yards
  • 10 furlongs
  • 1 mile 2 furlongs 192 yards
  • 1 mile 5 furlongs 13 yards
  • 1 mile 7 furlongs
  • 2 miles 1 furlong 105 yards
  • 2 miles 4 furlongs and 90 yards

The track is a left-handed oval of 12 furlongs including a half mile run in. A six furlong chute joins the round track after just over a furlong. The course is generally flat, with gentle undulations, particularly in the straight. The turns are well graded and it can be regarded as basically a fair track.[4]

Jumps[edit]

Hurdle races are run over distances of:

  • 2 miles 1 furlong
  • 2 miles 4 furlongs
  • 2 miles 6 furlongs
  • 3 miles 110 yards
  • 3 miles 2 furlongs 110 yards
  • 3 miles 3 furlongs 110 yards

Chases are run over:

  • 2 miles
  • 2 miles 4 furlongs
  • 2 miles 5 furlongs 110 yards
  • 3 miles 1 furlong
  • 3 miles 2 furlongs 110 yards
  • 3 miles 3 furlongs 110 yards
  • 3 miles 5 furlongs
  • 4 miles 110 yards

The jumps course is a left-handed one and a half mile circuit with nine fences. It runs downhill to the home turn and thereafter there is a gentle rise to the finish, a run-in of 210 yards. Conditions can get extremely gruelling.[5]

Facilities[edit]

The paddock stand at Ayr is named the Rothesay Stand in honour of Charles and Camilla, Duke and Duchess of Rothesay.[6]

Awards[edit]

Ayr has been voted Best Racecourse in Scotland and the North East nineteen times by the Racegoers Club, including the last nine years in a row.[7]

It has also won the Neil Wyatt Ground Staff Award for the Best Dual Purpose Course twice - in 1996 and 2011.[8] This award is voted on by representatives of the National Trainers Federation and Professional Jockeys' Association to recognise the achievements of racecourse groundstaff.

In 2012, Ayr was nominated in two categories in the Racecourse Association Showcase Awards[9] - the Food and Beverage and Owners' Experience categories, winning the latter.[10]

It has been designated a four star visitor attraction by VisitScotland.[11]

Facts and figures[edit]

Flat[edit]

  • Number of fixtures (2012) - 16[12]
  • Prize money (2012) - £928,600[12]
  • Top jockey (2011) - Paul Hanagan, 14 wins from 61 rides[13]
  • Top owner (2011) - Ken McGarrity[13]
  • Top trainer (2011) - Richard Fahey[13]
  • Top trainer (2007 - 2011 inc.) - Richard Fahey, 55 wins from 325 runs[4]

Jumps[edit]

Notable races[edit]

Flat races:

National Hunt races:

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b British Racing and Racecourses (ISBN 978-0950139722) by Marion Rose Halpenny - Page 71
  2. ^ a b c d e "Racecourse History". Ayr Racecourse. Retrieved 11 April 2013. 
  3. ^ "Ayr Racecourse". Scottish Racing. Retrieved 11 April 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Timeform. Racecourse Maps Flat (Report). Portman Press. p. 1. http://www.timeform.com.
  5. ^ a b Timeform. Racecourse Maps Jumps (Report). Portman Press. p. 2. http://www.timeform.com.
  6. ^ "Stand to be renamed in honour of Duke and Duchess". Ayr Racecourse. 14 September 2012. Retrieved 11 April 2013. 
  7. ^ "Nine in a Row for Ayr Racecourse". Ayr Racecourse. 7 January 2013. Retrieved 11 April 2013. 
  8. ^ "Top Award For Racecourse Team". Ayr Racecourse. 31 January 2011. Retrieved 11 April 2013. 
  9. ^ "Ayr nominated for two national racecourse awards". Ayr Racecourse. 7 November 2012. Retrieved 11 April 2013. 
  10. ^ "Ayr wins national racecourse award". Ayr Racecourse. 27 November 2012. Retrieved 11 April 2013. 
  11. ^ "Ayr racecourse awarded VisitScotland 4 star rating". Ayr Racecourse. 7 November 2012. Retrieved 11 April 2013. 
  12. ^ a b "Prize money boost at Ayr". Ayr Racecourse. 30 May 2012. Retrieved 11 April 2013. 
  13. ^ a b c "Paul Ken and Richard win Ayr titles". Ayr Racecourse. 1 November 2011. Retrieved 11 April 2013. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 55°27′54″N 4°36′31″W / 55.46500°N 4.60861°W / 55.46500; -4.60861