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 Ayr Gold Cup Festival – but also hosts all of Scotland’s top races including its only Group race and several Listed races.

Ayr Racecourse is not only home to Scotland’s two biggest Festivals – the Coral Scottish Grand National Festival and the 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 outstanding contests throughout the year at Ayr under both codes - jumps and Flat.

The highlight of the jumps season is the Coral Scottish Grand National Festival with the feature the Coral Scottish Grand National.

The latest renewal of this famous and historic race ended in a fantastic 1-2 for young Welsh trainer Christian Williams when Win My Wings, partnered by amateur jockey Rob James, forged clear of his field with the nearest pursuer her stablemate Kitty’s Light.

This is the fourth biggest race in terms of betting turnover in the country and is regularly watched by a television audience of in excess of a million viewers on the main ITV channel.

Also on the Scottish Grand National Saturday card is the Coral Scottish Champion Hurdle and this contest in 2022 was won by the Irish raider Anna Bunina.

Scotland’s richest and biggest Flat race meeting is the Ayr Gold Cup Festival held every year in September with the feature The Ayr Gold Cup.

Bielsa and jockey Kevin Stott won the race in 2021 giving trainer Kevin Ryan his fifth winner of the richest Flat contest in Scotland and one of the most valuable handicap sprints in the country.

Other Flat highlights at the track include Scotland’s only Group race, the Class 1 Group 3  Firth Of Clyde Stakes won in 2021 by Nazanin giving trainer Archie Watson his biggest ever success north of the border.

 

 

 

 


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-risksTaking Risks ridden by Sean Quinlan taking the lead to win the 2019 Coral Scottish Grand National

Coral Scottish Grand National (Class1) (Grade 3)

The most prestigious race of the Scottish jumps calendar and one that is without doubt one of the very best long distance chases in the world.

This is the fourth biggest race in terms of betting turnover in the UK and regularly exceeds a million viewers on ITV 1.

Up to 30 runners face 27 fences over the four miles and invariably leading chasers from top yards contest this valuable contest which over the years has produced some outstanding winners.

The latest running in 2022 saw Welsh trainer Christian Williams saddle a 1-2 with Win My Wings, ridden by Rob James, absolutely hacking up seven lengths clear of stablemate Kitty’s Light who had Jack Tudor in the saddle.

In the run up to the race Christian was bullish his horses would run big races and he was certainly proved right.

In 2021 Lucinda Russell trained Mighty Thunder, ridden by Tom Scudamore to win the race becoming the first Scottish trained winner since Merigo in 2012.

The Scottish Grand National was famously won in 1974 by Red Rum whose victory came just two weeks after he had won the Grand National at Aintree. He remains the only horse to complete the Aintree-Ayr double in the same season.

 

 

Win My Wings clear of her stablemate Kitty’s Light to win the Coral Scottish Grand National 2022

Win My Wings clear of her stablemate Kitty’s Light to win the Coral Scottish Grand National 2022

CPMS Novices’ Champion Handicap Chase (Class 2)

Introduced in 2018 this valuable race is now very much part and parcel of Coral Scottish Grand National Saturday.

The latest running saw the Nicky Henderson trained Dusart battle back under Nico de Boinville to win by half a length from Sounds Russian. That was his third win in four chases and he should be contesting Graded races in 2022-2023.

In 2021 Ian Williams sent One More Fleurie on the trip north from his Midlands base to impressively land the spoils.

Dan Skelton’s Molly The Dolly won in 2019 and the inaugural running went the way of Irish raider Crosshue Boy.

 

 

 

Dusart holds off Sounds Russian to win the CPMS Novices’ Handicap Chase

Dusart holds off Sounds Russian to win the CPMS Novices’ Handicap Chase

Coral Scottish Champion Hurdle (Class1) (Grade2)

The main supporting race on the card to the Coral Scottish Grand National this is one of the most exciting handicap hurdles in the racing calendar.

The brilliant Anna Bunina won this in 2022 for Irish trainer John McConnell. Having finished second to Milkwood in 2021 she was hampered in running but came from third to first in the last 100 yards as jockey Sean Bowen finally got her a clear run. It is her trainer’s intention to run her again in the race next year.

This contest is regularly high in quality and trainers who have sent out winners in recent years include greats such as Nicky Henderson, Paul Nicholls, Alan King, Donald McCain, Dan Skelton, Philip Hobbs and Sue Smith.

The roll of honour includes Verdana Blue (2019), Ch’itibello (2016) and Cockney Sparrow (2014) and much further back in time Alderbrook (1996), Bird’s Nest (1979, 1981) and Sea Pigeon (1977, 1978).

 

 

Anna Bunina (right) pounces late to win the Coral Scottish Champion Hurdle

Anna Bunina (right) pounces late to win the Coral Scottish Champion Hurdle

Jordan Electrics Ltd Future Champion Chase (Class 1) (Grade2)

This race is synonymous with Coral Scottish Grand National Saturday and has produced some excellent winners down the years including legends like Sparky Gayle (1997), Grey Abbey (2001) and Monet’s Garden (2004).

The name added to a stellar list this year was that of Do Your Job trained by Michael Scudamore and ridden by Richard Patrick. Owner Mark Dunphy bedecked in a scarf carrying his racing colours was ecstatic as he received his trophy. A really worthy winner of a classy race.

 

 

 

 

The highly progressive Do Your Job jumps the last to win the Jordan Electrics Ltd Future Champion Chase

The highly progressive Do Your Job jumps the last to win the Jordan Electrics Ltd Future Champion Chase

Hillhouse Quarry Handicap Chase (Class1) (Listed Race)

Hillhouse Quarry are the longest running sponsors at Ayr Racecourse with their support of the track going back almost 30 years.

Dan Skelton made it four wins from the last five runnings of this Listed contest when Beakstown triumphed by two and a half lengths from Coach Carter. The trainer had previously won with Two Taffs (2017), Value At Rick (2018) and Born Survivor in 2019.

The field in this race which is the headline contest on the Friday of the Coral Scottish Grand National Festival invariably oozes quality and such luminaries of the chasing game as Definitly Red (2016) and The Knoxs  (2012) are past winners.

 

 

 

 

 

Jockey Dan Skelton powers Beakstown into the last on their way to win the Hillhouse Quarry Handicap Chase Listed Race

Jockey Dan Skelton powers Beakstown into the last on their way to win the Hillhouse Quarry Handicap Chase Listed Race

Scotty Brand Handicap Chase (Class1) (Listed Race)

Scotty Brand are another longstanding sponsor at Ayr and company owner Ronnie Bartlett is a great supporter of the sport having owned some great horses over the years.

The 2022 renewal of this Listed race which is the first on the card on Coral Scottish Grand National Saturday, produced a thrilling finish with Return Ticket, trained by Rebecca Menzies  and  ridden by Sean Quinlan prevailing by a neck from Malystic.

Previous winners include Theinval in 2021 and 2018, Duke Of Navan (2015), Raya Star (2012) and Noble Request (2010).

 

 

 

 

Return Ticket heads Malystic on the way to winning the Scotty Brand Handicap Chase, Listed Race

Return Ticket heads Malystic on the way to winning the Scotty Brand Handicap Chase, Listed Race

The Ayr Gold Cup (Heritage Handicap)

The Ayr Gold Cup is the most famous and richest Flat race run in Scotland and a tremendous spectacle to watch with up to 25 runners fanned across the track and speeding down the six furlong home straight at Ayr.

Kevin Ryan won the race for the fifth time in 2021 with Bielsa coming home two and a quarter lengths clear in the hands of Kevin Stott. The previous Ryan winners were Advanced (2007), Our Jonathan (2011), Captain Ramius (2012) and Brando (2016).

Bielsa came down the stand side rail in splendid isolation and won by two and a quarter lengths from Great Ambassador. It was a brilliant performance and the jockey deserves great credit for such a positive ride.

In 2020 Newmarket trainer William Haggas won the race for the first time with a very talented sprinter in Nahaarr. This is a race that is a fabulous spectacle and we look forward to another fantastic renewal in 2021.

 

 

What a picture – Bielsa and Kevin Stott win the Ayr Gold Cup

What a picture – Bielsa and Kevin Stott win the Ayr Gold Cup

The Doonside Cup (Class 1) (Listed Race)

This famous race is one of the best middle distance Listed races in the north and Maydanny carried the Shadwell Stud colours to victory last year for Mark Johnston and jockey Joe Fanning.

In what was a highly competitive heat the gelding showed great resolution to get the better of Euchen Glen and win by a length and a half.

In 2020 the race attracted the highest rated horse ever to run at Ayr, the Willie Haggas trained Addeybb who won cosily under a cool Tom Marquand ride  from Lord Glitters.  

Godolphin have won this great race five times, the latest success coming with Secret Number in 2016.

 

 

 

Maydanny and Joe Fanning winning the Doonside Cup

Maydanny and Joe Fanning winning the Doonside Cup

The EBF British Stallions Harry Rosebery Stakes (Class 1) (Listed Race)

A  long standing Ayr highlight the Harry Rosebery Stakes is a five furlong dash for two year olds and is run on Ladies Day, the middle day of the Ayr Gold Cup Festival.

The 2021 running was won by the highly impressive filly Vertiginous who posted a new juvenile course record of 56.89 seconds in beating Mibaahy by two lengths. Trained by Brian Meehan  and the mount of Paul Mulrennan this was a mighty performance.

 Back in 2015 the winner was Quiet Reflection who went on to Group 1 glory and was sold for £2,100,000 guineas.

 

 

 

 

Jockey Paul Mulrennan steers Vertiginous (second right)  to victory in the British EBF Stallions Harry Rosebery Stakes, Listed Race

Jockey Paul Mulrennan steers Vertiginous (second right) to victory in the British EBF Stallions Harry Rosebery Stakes, Listed Race

The Arran Scottish Fillies Sprint Stakes (Class1) (Listed Race)

First introduced in 2018, this Listed five and a half furlong sprint has quickly established itself as one of the highlights of the Ayr Gold Cup Festival  and like the Harry Rosebery Stakes is run on Ladies Day.

In Karl Burke trained Dandalla to triumph by one and three quarter lengths from Bimble with jockey 

In 2020 Paul Hanagan rode his 100th Ayr winner on the Cheveley Park Stud owned Exceptional to win for trainer Richard Fahey. 

 

 

 

 

 

Dandalla (no 8) eases down winning the Arran Scottish Sprint EBF Fillies’ Stakes Listed Race

Dandalla (no 8) eases down winning the Arran Scottish Sprint EBF Fillies’ Stakes Listed Race

The Firth Of Clyde Stakes (Class1) (Group 3)

This is Scotland’s only Group race and is run over the straight six furlongs for two year-old fillies and  regularly attracts a good field of horses from some of the leading yards in the land.

The well-bred Nazanin won the latest running in 2021 for trainer Archie Watson and jockey Hollie Doyle in what was one of the best finishes of the Flat season at Ayr. It was only in the shadow of the post that the brave filly got her head in front of the Willie Haggas runner Canonized.

The list of previous winners include Umm Kulthum (2020), Rose Of Kildare (2019), Shaden (2015), Coral Mist  (2013) and Majestic Dubawi (2010).

 

 

 

 

 

Her saddle cloth says no 1 and that’s where Nazanin finished in the Group 3 Firth Of Clyde Stakes

Her saddle cloth says no 1 and that’s where Nazanin finished in the Group 3 Firth Of Clyde Stakes

The Irish Stallion Farms EBF Land O’Burns Fillies’ Stakes (Class1) (Listed Race)

Traditionally this Listed contest is the fastest race run at Ayr and Look Busy holds the five furlong course record at the track with her 2008 win here with a time of 55.68 seconds.

It was fitting her dam Keep Busy won the race in 2021with jockey Jason Hart niggling away before she put the race to bed inside the final furlong to win by three quarters of a length from Dickiedooda. Her time was a touch slower than her mother’s at 58.08 seconds.

The brilliant filly Marsha won the race in 2016 before going to win two Group 1s and being sold for six million guineas.

 

 

 

Jason Hart (black and white silks) eases Keep Busy home to win the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies’ Stakes Listed Race

Jason Hart (black and white silks) eases Keep Busy home to win the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies’ Stakes Listed Race

Tennent’s British Stallion Studs EBF Rothesay Stakes (Class1) (Listed Race)

This race for fillies and mares aged four years and upwards was first run in 2016 when it was won by the Keith Dalgleish trained Maleficent Queen and other winners include the brilliant Nezwaah in 2017 who went on to win a Group 1 at the Curragh for trainer Roger Varian.

Keith also trained the 2018 winner Euro Nightmare while in 2019 Shenanigans won for the Varian yard.

Last year the Peter Chapple-Hyam trained Bharani Star, ridden by Paul Hanagan, sprung a surprise at odds of 16-1.

 

 

Another big race at Ayr in the bag for Paul Hanagan as he rides Bharani Star to victory in the British Stallion Studs EBF Scottish Fillies’ Stakes

Another big race at Ayr in the bag for Paul Hanagan as he rides Bharani Star to victory in the British Stallion Studs EBF Scottish Fillies’ Stakes

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