Third Gold Cup consolation race possible in revamped 2012 fixture

Following the conclusion on Saturday of this year’s Western meeting at Ayr racecourse plans are already underway to revamp the fixture for 2012.

First amongst these is the possibility of a further consolation race for horses balloted out of the Ayr Gold Cup, Europe's richest six furlong handicap. The race has a maximum field of 27, and with 193 sprinters declared this year, more than half the possible runners were ruled out of both the Silver Cup and the Bronze Cup last week as well as the main feature itself.

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Course chairman Alan Macdonald said yesterday, "it's something we are going to have to look at. We will take the feedback from trainers to see what we do with the Bronze Cup, but it's one of the things we going to look at. We could have another race – will have to find a name for it!"

Macdonald is particularly keen to improve the card on the opening day of the meeting, and one idea under consideration for this is to offer some help with expenses for those trainers bringing their horses a long distance to the racetrack. "We have a few ideas for next year to make things a wee bit different – it's confidential but let's just say there will be a different flavour to the meeting next year. We're looking at something pretty special."

One visitor thrilled by his first trip to Ayr was Dr Marwan Koukash, for whom Our Jonathan was a second successive winner of the Ayr Gold Cup. Macdonald said, "He (Koukash) was really enthusing about the course; he said he has been to at Epsom, he's been to Ascot, and this place rate up alongside them. He said he will be back before the end of the season."

Although attendances at the three-day meeting were down by a couple of thousand on previous years Macdonald identified a number of different factors that were likely to have influence that. "They were doing engineering works on the train from Glasgow to air, so there were no trains running, and there was an accident on the M8 on Gold. And I think a lot of people probably put off because bad weather was forecast – though it didn't actually materialise.

He was full of praise for the work of clerk of the course Emma Marley and her team in preparing the track. "At the beginning of the week we had torrential storms but the course stood up very well. Alan Bailey and Richard Fahey thought the ground was fantastic considering the circumstances."

Macdonald will be looking to engage support of the First Minister of Scotland, racing enthusiast Alex Salmond, who was taking a day out from politics to attend Gold Cup day. Macdonald explained to him that although planning consent for housing and leisure scheme was available for the next five years the priority was work on the track itself and that any further commercial venture would not begin before the economy picked up.

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