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Ayr Racecourse is not only home to Scotland’s two biggest Festivals – the Coral Scottish Grand National Festival and the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup Festival – but also hosts all of Scotland’s top races including its only Group race and several Listed races.
There are many quality races throughout the year at Ayr both over jumps and on the Flat.
The highlight of the jumps season is the Coral Scottish Grand National Festival with the feature the £215,000 Coral Scottish Grand National.
The latest renewal of this iconic race saw a victory for the north when the Nicky Richards trained Takingrisks, ridden by Sean Quinlan, recovered from a first fence mistake to hit the front coming into the home straight and win by four lengths from Crosspark.
This is the fourth biggest race in terms of betting turnover in the country and was watched by a television audience of 1.2 million on ITV 1.
Also on the Scottish Grand National Saturday card is the CPMS Scottish Champion Hurdle and this contest in 2019 was won decisively by Nicky Henderson’s Verdana Blue, given an excellent ride by 17 year-old Connor Brace.
Scotland’s richest and biggest Flat race meeting is the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup Festival held every year in September with the feature the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup.
The 2019 running of the race was won by the Tom Dascombe trained Angel Alexander, ridden by Richard Kingscote. The outsider tracked Major Jumbo through and shot clear on the stands side and held off a late challenge from Growl to win. His part-owner Michael Owen watched the race unfold on his phone as he headed to the BT Sports studios in London.
Other Flat highlights at the track include Scotland’s only Group race, the Class 1 Group 3 William Hill Firth of Clyde Stakes.
Here is a full list of our top races with a little bit of their history.
Vicente, trained by Paul Nicholls and ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies became the first horse since Androma in 1985 to win back to back Scottish Grand Nationals in 2016 and 2017.
Taking Risks ridden by Sean Quinlan taking the lead to win the 2019 Coral Scottish Grand National
THE TOP RACES AT AYR
Coral Scottish Grand National (Class 1) (Grade 3)
Run over four miles and with 27 fences to negotiate is the second richest race contested on a Saturday during the national hunt season, the fourth biggest race in terms of betting turnover in the UK and in 2019 was watched by more than 1.2 million viewers on ITV 1.
The 2019 running of Scotland’s richest race, which carries a prize fund of £215,000, was a triumph for Takingrisks, trained by Nicky Richards at Greystoke near Penrith, who recovered from a bad mistake at the first to hit the front turning for home and run out a four length winner from Crosspark.
The trainer was following his father Gordon, who trained Scottish National winners Playlord (1969) and Four Trix (1990), into the history books. It was also the biggest win of jockey Sean Quinlan’s career.
The race as won in 1974 by Red Rum who triumphed at Ayr two weeks after winning the Grand National at Aintree.
Previous winners also include Earth Summit (1994), Belmont King (1997) Paris Pike(2000), Merigo (2010 and 2012), Vicente (2016, 2017) and Joe Farrell in 2018.
Taking Risks, trained by Nicky Richards came back from a mistake to win the 2018 Coral Scottish Grand National
J & D Pierce Novices’ Champion Handicap Chase (Class 2)
The eight year-old filly Molly The Dolly won the second running of this £100,000 novices’ chase and showed a great attitude in doing so.
Yet another winner on the day for trainer Dan Skelton and his jockey brother Dan this was impressive with previous course winner Dandy Dan Dan more than three lengths back in second.
Connections can either aim Molly The Dolly at other valuable contests or opt for a career as brood mare for their talented horse.
The winner of the first running of the race was Crosshue Boy.
Molly the Dolly, winner of the J & D Pierce Novices’ Championship Handicap Chase
CPMS Scottish Champion Hurdle (Class 1) (Grade 2)
With £105,000 in prize-money this is well established as one of the top two mile handicap hurdles in British racing and in 2019 we saw an outstanding mare win in Verdana Blue, trained by Nicky Henderson.
Given a great ride by 17 year-old Connor Brace the seven year old enjoyed herself on the good ground and the result was never in doubt and she crossed the line seven lengths in front of Dino Velvet.
The roll of honour includes Alderbrook (1996), Fadalko (1999), Overturn (2010), Raya Star (2012), Ch’tibello (2016) and Midnight Shadow (2018).
Verdana Blue and 17year old jockey Connor Brace repel all challengers to win the 2019 CPMS Scottish Champion Hurdle
Jordan Electrics Ltd Future Champion Chase (Class 1) (Grade 2)
A race that has been won by some real racing luminaries down the years and when we look back at 2019 Secret Investor could well be another of those.
The Paul Nicholls trained seven year-old looks a progressive sort and Harry Cobden steered him to the front five out and he powered up the home straight to win by three and three quarter lengths.
He joins that impressive list of previous winners who include Sparky Gale (1997), Grey Abbey (2001), Monet’s Garden (2004), French Opera (2010) and Cloudy Dream (2017).
Secret Investor out in front to win the Jordan Electrics Ltd Future Champion Chase
Hillhouse Quarry Handicap Chase (Class 1) (Listed Race)
This is a race trainer Dan Skelton obviously loves as he won it for the third year running in 2019 with the eight year-old Born Survivor who followed stablemates Value At Risk (2018) and Two Taffs (2017) into the record books.
The feature race on the opening day of the Coral Scottish Grand National Festival, this Listed contest carries a prize fund of £50,000 and this year attracted a field of 13 runners.
Born Survivor always looked to be travelling well under jockey Harry Skelton and his jumping was spot on and he won with seven lengths to spare from Colin Tizzard’s Sizing Granite.when Value At Risk won the 2018 running under a fine ride from Harry Skelton.
In addition to the other two Dan Skelton trained winners he joins the likes of Definitly Red (2016), Scotch Warrior (2014) and The Knoxs (2012) on the roll of past winners.
Dan Skelton and Harry Skelton win the 2019 Hillhouse Quarry Handicap Chase for the third year in a row with Born Survivor
Scotty Brand Handicap Chase (Class 1) (Listed Race)
The opening race on Coral Scottish Grand National Saturday and Dan Skelton picked up where he left off on the Friday this year when saddling Azzuri to an emphatic win.
A winner of a novice chase at the meeting in 2018 he jumped spectacularly and made all to win by nine lengths from Vosne Romanee with Harry Skelton having an armchair ride.
Previous winners of this race which carries Listed status include Theinval (2018), Duke of Navan in 2015, Raya Star (2012) and Noble Request in 2010.
Azzuri taking the fence first to win the Scotty Brand Handicap Chase by an impressive nine lengths
The William Hill Ayr Gold Cup (Heritage Handicap)
The headline race of the three day Festival is the richest Flat race in Scotland with £200,000 in prize-money and is one of the most exciting races on the racing calendar.
With a field of up to 25 top sprinters thundering down the six furlong home straight the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup takes around 70 seconds to run and creates an electric atmosphere around the course as its run.
The 2019 winner was Angel Alexander who was one of six horses racing on the stands rails and he powered clear to hold off a late challenge from Growl on the far side. Ridden by Richard Kingscote, trained by Tom Dascombe and part-owned by former footballer Michael Owen he became only the second three year-old to win the race in the last 16 years.
In 2018 two pieces of history were made when Baron Bolt and Son Of Rest dead heated with the latter also becoming the first Irish trained horse to win.
Recent winners include Brando who won in 2016 and who has since gone on to win the 32Red Sprint Cup Group 1 at Haydock and another Group 1 – the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville
Angel Alexander takes the win of the 2019 William Hill Ayr Gold Cup
The William Hill Firth Of Clyde Stakes (Class 1) (Group 3)
We are proud to host Scotland’s only Group race which is run over six furlongs for two year old fillies. With a prize fund of £65,000, this attracts some classy young horses.
Rose Of Kildare from the Mark Johnston yard showed a lot of determination and a great deal of speed to win the 2019 running and she gave jockey Joe Fanning his second successive win in the race having won the 2018 running on Queen Of Bermuda.
Previous winners of the race include Shaden (2015),Coral Mist (2013) and Majestic Dubawi (2010).
Rose Of Kildare and Joe Fanning win the 2019 William Hill Firth Of Clyde Stakes
The William Hill Doonside Cup (Class 1) (Listed Race)
One of the highlights of the Flat season at Ayr this prestigious race, run over 1m 2f, now gives its name to the Opening Day of the three day William Hill Ayr Gold Cup Festival.
With £65,000 in prize-money the race is targeted by some leading trainers including Andrew Balding whose three year old filly Encapsulation proved too good for her rivals to win in 2019 from Keith Dalgleish’s unlucky in running What’s The Story. Andrew previously trained Scottish to win in 2015 and Opera Gal to claim the honours in 2012.
Godolphin have won this Listed contest five times, the latest success coming with Secret Number in 2016.
Encapsulation wins the 2019 William Hill Doonside Cup
The Shadwell Stud/EBF Stallions Harry Rosebery Stakes (Class 1) (Listed Race)
The £40,000 Shadwell Stud/EBF Harry Rosebery Stakes, Listed Race is run over five furlongs on the middle day of the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup Festival – Ladies Day.
The Irish dominated in 2019 with the Fozzy Stack trained, Chris Hayes ridden Piece of Paradise winning from Joseph O’Brien’s Lady Penelope and Willie McCreery’s Ickworth.
Probably the best known winner of the race is Quiet Reflection who won in 2015 before winning two Group 1s.
Piece Of Paradise and jockey Chris Hayes win the 2019 Shadwell Stud Harry Rosebery Stakes
The Al Maktoum Cup Arran Scottish Fillies Sprint Stakes (Class 1) (Listed Race)
This Listed race was first introduced in 2018 when Intense Romance, trained by Michael Dods and ridden by Callum Rodriguez won.
In 2019 Lady In France, a three year old, was very impressive in winning from Que Amoro. Trained by Karl Burke and ridden by Ben Curtis she stayed on well ad is highly thought of by connections.
Her owner Steve Parkin of Clipper Logistics flew in by helicopter to see her win.
Lady In France with Ben Curtis win the 2019 Al Maktoum Cup Arran Scottish Fillies Sprint Stakes
The British Stallion Studs EBF Fillies Land O’ Burns Stakes (Listed Race)
This is traditionally one of the fastest races run at Ayr and the five furlong course record of 55.68 seconds was set in this contest in 2008 by Alan Berry’s prolific filly Look Busy.
This year the race was won by a filly returning after a year off the track in what was a tremendous training feat.
Rebecca Rocks gave trainer Henry Candy his third win in the £50,000 British Stallion Studs EBF Land O’Burns Fillies Stakes under Paul Hanagan.
Always travelling well she quickened up around a furlong out and although Glass Slippers was closing near the line Rebecca Rocks won rather cosily by a neck.
In 2016 the race was won by Sir Mark Prescott’s Marsha who went on to win two Group 1s before being sold for a European record six million guineas at the Tattersalls December Sales.
2019 winner Rebecca Rocks ridden by Paul Hanagan gave trainer Henry Candy his third win in this race
Tennent’s British Stallion Studs EBF Rothesay Stakes (Class 1) (Listed Race)
The £50,000 race for fillies and mares aged four years and upwards was first run in 2016.
And in the four runnings both Keith Dalgleish and Roger Varian have trained two winners each
The latest winner on May 22, 2019 was Shenanigans from the Varian yard, ridden by stable jockey. The five year-old travelled well throughout and hit the front two out and won readily by a length and a quarter from Exhort. She had previously been placed in Listed company but this was his first success at this level.
The previous winner from the Newmarket stable was Nezwaah who won the Rothesay Stakes in 2017 before going on to the Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh.
This filly was also ridden by Atzeni whose Ayr record stands at ridden two, won two.
The Dalgleish winners came with Euro Nightmare, owned by Ayr Racecourse director Stuart Morrison, in 2018 and with Maleficent Queen when the race was first run in 2016.
2019 winner of the Tennent's British Stallion Studs EBF Rothesay Stakes Shenanigans for Roger Varian Yard.
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