Widely regarded as Scotland’s premier racecourse and its only Grade 1 track, Ayr plays host to both the Scottish Grand National and the Ayr Gold Cup festival – which is now the richest sprint handicap race in Europe. This dual-purpose race track hosts both flat and National Hunt racing action throughout the calendar year.
Horse racing at Ayr dates all the way back to 1576, but the first official race meeting did not take place until 1771. Nevertheless, that means Ayr has been the unofficial home of Scottish horse racing for more than two centuries. To date, the remarkable Red Rum remains the only horse to have won both the Scottish Grand National and the English Grand National in the same year (1974).
There are two different courses at Ayr: the straight course of six furlongs for flat race meetings and the oval left-hand circuit of 12 furlongs. For the Scottish Grand National, the course is a challenging distance of 4m ½ furlong with 27 fences throughout.
The Scottish Grand National has been run at Ayr since 1966 when the event moved from its former Bogside home. Meanwhile the headline race of September’s three-day Ayr Gold Cup festival is the 6f Ayr Gold Cup. 27 of the highest weighted horses enter, with those excluded permitted to enter the Silver Cup.
GeeGeez says: “Ayr Racecourse benefits from supremely effective drainage which means that race conditions are very rarely that heavy going. This means that both the sprint and oval courses are generally very fair to all types of horse; although those long striding gallopers tend to eat up the ground more quickly.
“The course itself is also largely level, with only minor undulations providing minimal resistance for most runners and riders.”
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