The Top Races here at Ayr

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.

History was made in this great race in 2018 when we saw the first ever dead heat between Baron Bolt, trained by Paul Cole and ridden by Cameron Noble and Son Of Rest, trained in Ireland by Fozzy Stack and the mount of Chris Hayes.

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.


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



William Hill Ayr Gold Cup
The richest Flat race in Scotland with a prize fund of £200,000 this is one of the most exciting and highly contested races of the season in the UK with 25 horses hurtling down the famous home straight at Ayr.

History was made twice over in 2018 with the first ever dead heat in the race between Baron Bolt and Son Of Rest who also became the first Irish trained horse to win.

The race had looked all over just over a furlong out when Son Of Rest, trained by Fozzy Stack, shot clear. As the line approached though Baron Bolt came out of the pack and the pair crossed the line together.

It took seven agonising minutes before the result was officially announced and history was re-written.

Third place went to Tim Easterby’s Flying Pursuit while Get Knotted, trained by Micahel Dods came in fourth.

Another enthralling chapter was written into the history of this iconic race and many people will look back at the year the race ended in a dead heat and say ‘I was there’.

Past winners of this race include Lochsong in 1992 who was a year later voted European Horse of the Year.

The 2016 winner was the brilliant Brando who later won the 32Red Sprint Cup Group 1 at Haydock and another Group 1 – the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville.

Son of Rest and Baron Bolt win the 2018 William Hill Ayr Gold Cup

The William Hill Firth Of Clyde Stakes (Class 1) (Group 3) 
Scotland’s only Group race which is run on William Hill Ayr Gold Cup Saturday over six furlongs and gained Group status in 2004.

Always a highly competitive contest, the 2018 running of the £65,000 race saw 11 runners go to post with many of the top yards in UK represented.

Queen of Bermuda, trained by William Haggas at Newmarket and ridden by Joe Fanning, was sent off favourite and duly obliged winning in style by two lengths from Shumookhi.

It was a highly impressive display by the filly who was winning for the fourth time.

Queen of Bermuda and Joe Fanning win the 2018 William Hill Firth Of Clyde Stakes

The William Hill Doonside Cup (Class 1) (Listed Race)
A Class 1 Listed Race over one mile two furlongs which has a rich history having produced some highly rated winners over the years.

In 2018 Dolphin Vista, trained by Ralph Beckett and ridden by Danny Tudhope, made virtually all to win this prestigious prize. He was made fight all the way by Andrew Balding’s Morando, the mount of David Probert, who refused to give up and battled all the way to the line.

But as the post approached Danny conjured another effort from Dolphin Vista who crossed the line  half a length to the good with Aspetar, trained by Roger Charlton, a further three and a quarter lengths back in third.

All three horses plus Air Pilot who came fourth had BHA ratings of 100 plus and this running will probably prove to be one of the best of all time alongside the 2015 race which saw Scottish win from Mutakayyef and Exospheric.

Dolphin Vista and Danny Tudhope win the 2018 William Hill Doonside Cup

The Shadwell Stud Harry Rosebery Stakes (Class 1) (Listed Race)
Run on the middle day of the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup Festival – Ladies Day – this Class 1 Listed race over five furlongs has produced some terrific winners over the years including the brilliant Quiet Reflection in 2015.

In 2018 a quality field of 12 runners went to post and there was a nail biting finish with jockey Graham Lee producing Ralph Beckett’s Dave Dexter in the shadow of the post to collar Vintage Brut and win by a neck.

This was a classy renewal of the great race and it will be well worth following the progress of the first two home along with Secret Venture who finished third.

Dave Dexter and Graham Lee win the 2018 Shadwell Stud Harry Rosebery Stakes

The Al Maktoum Cup Arran Scottish Fillies Sprint Stakes (Class 1) (Listed Race)
This Listed race was run for the first time on the Friday of the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup Festival in 2018 and produced a tremendous contest.

Run over a relatively new distance for Ayr of five and a half furlongs 15 runners lined up

Intense Romance, trained by Michael Dods just held on by an ever diminishing short head to beat Mayleaf Shine from the Ian Jardine yard.

Young jockey Callum Rodriguez was riding his first Listed winner and couldn’t hide his delight afterwards.

Intense Romance with Callum Rodriguez win the 2018 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.

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