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Ayr Racecourse

Published on: 18/08/2013

The possessor of perhaps more accolades than any other Scottish Horse track, Ayr Racecourse has been voted no less than 19 times the best racecourse in Scotland and the North east. The Racegoers Club, who cast these votes obviously hold this arena in very high esteem, but what is it about the track that inspires such devotion? It hosts both flat and regular jump events, and its annual running schedule generally entails 27 racing days. Among the many prestigious events it puts up are the Ayr Gold cup in September, and the Scottish Grand National every April. At 1.5 miles in circumference this oval track it ideally suited for broad striding horses in gallop, and many Scottish Jockeys claim it as their favorite.

The track has a long an illustrious history: records as far back as 1576 detail races in the area, but the first listed meeting occurred in 1771. The first Ayre Gold Cup was run there more than two centuries ago in 1804. The William Hill was first run in 1824, under the different title of the Gold Cup Festival. From this point onwards Ayr grew in fame and importance. It fast became Britain’s most important stage for running two year olds. In 1855 The Ayr Gold Cup became a handicap, the first step in it becoming the most illustrious sprint handicap in the whole of Europe, with a staggering prize fund of £150,00 by 2011. The track certainly had come a long way since it’s humble beginnings in the sixteenth century.

In 1907 the racecourse was transported from Seafield to Craggie. This new 155 acre new location allowed the restricted mile long circuit, which had always been too small, to be enlarged to its impressive current length. This modification got rid of dangerous sharp bends, while also permitting the enlargement of the paddock. The inspiration for this design came from the Newbury racetrack, and incorporated an impressive straight course six furlongs in length.

In 1950 a jumps course was added, permitting racing to take place throughout the year, and the track was honored and validated the addition of national Hunt racing. The real prestige though arrived in 1966, when the Scottish Grand National, which had previously been held at Bogside’s racecourse, was moved to Ayr. The Firth of Clyde Stakes was run at the track in 1976, and ever since 1986 the added six furlong group three sprint has been part of the September Gold Cup Meeting. The Group Two Scottish Derby was begun in 1979, being the main fixture of July. This was generally known as the Scottish Classic for the fifteen years up to 2003, when it changed its name to the York Stakes at York Racecourse.

Ayr racecourse was purchase by Alan Macdonald and Richard Johnstone in 2003, a wealthy pair of businessmen, who immediately set about renovating the track. Of their £35 million budget to date £20 million has been spent. They have constructed a Banqueting and Conference Centre, and a four storey Princess Royal Exhibition, both of which were opened to the public in 2008. A pair of fine dining restaurants have also been added: the Chancellor Carvery and the Roman Warrior, while the western House is now a luxury 4 star hotel.

The renovations also included the creation of the beautiful Champagne gardens, situated adjacent to the Weighing room on the paddock lawn. A furlong bar, Silks Café Bistro, and The Paddock bar are other additions to the track. There are two basic tickets to gain admittance to the track, priced at £23 and £27. For these prices you will get a main meal coupon, offering you a discounts on food at the restaurants, a drinks discount, racecard, and a £2 Placepot credit. The more expensive ticket grants you admittance to other areas of the track. For more details on this you should check with the racetrack directly. Ayr doesn’t restrict itself just to horse racing though: it stages Ladies nights throughout August, and many charity functions throughout the year. Ayr Racecourse is a beautiful place, offering fun and entertainment for all the family. Even if you are not a horse racing aficionado, you will find plenty to keep you occupied there.

Published on: 18/08/2013 © Bet Bind
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