Ayr racecourse is situated in the town of the same name in the west of Scotland. It is a dual-purpose track which hosts both National Hunt and flat racing, including the Scottish National and the Gold Cup.
The track is a wide, left-handed, galloping oval with only minor undulations and is 1 mile and 4 furlongs long. The National Hunt track is one of the fastest in Britain and has a 210 yard run-in.
Racing is said to have taken place in Ayr as far back as the 16th century but the first documented meeting was in 1777. The famous Ayr Gold Cup was first introduced in 1804 and it was won the first two years by Chancellor.
Just over a hundred years later, in 1907, the course moved from Racecourse Road to its current location in Whitletts Road, just a short distance away. In 1950, a jumps course was introduced and, in 1966, when the racecourse at Boghall closed, the Scottish Grand National was moved to Ayr. In 2003, the course was sold by the Western Meeting Club and an ambitious £35 million redevelopment programme was started by its new owners.
Ayr’s Famous Races
As Scotland’s premier racecourse, Ayr hosts the Scottish Grand National in April each year and the Ayr Gold Cup Festival in September.
The Scottish Grand National has been held since 1867, originally at Boghall. It is run over 4 miles and 110 yards, slightly longer than the Boghall course, and is open to horses of five years or more. It is a handicap race and popular with horses who have run in the Grand National at Aintree.
The Festival is Scotland’s richest jumps meeting, with £200,000 prize money at stake for the National and over half a million for the Festival as a whole. Over 20,000 spectators are expected at Ayr over the two day Festival and almost a million watched the live coverage on Channel 4 last year.
The Gold Cup Festival was first held in 1804 when it was run over two separate two mile heats. Nowadays it is a much shorter race at only six furlongs. It is open to thoroughbreds of three years and over. The 28 heaviest horses compete, whilst the next 28 run the previous day on the same course and distance in the Ayr Silver Cup.
Fixtures are held year round with 28 on the calendar for 2008.
For full details of all fixtures see the appropriate page of the official website.
Generally speaking, prices start at £14 for the Grandstand and £20 for the Club Enclosure, although there is a varied pricing structure and tickets for meetings such as the Scottish National and the Ayr Gold Cup are higher. Discounts are available to groups, 16 to 24 year olds and senior citizens if booked in advance. For full details see the website.
Annual membership is available at £260.
Tickets can be bought online or by phoning 0870 850566.
Eating and Drinking
There is a wide variety of places to eat and drink at Ayr racecourse, from fast food at several outlets, including a fish and chip van, to a formal meal at the Roman Warrior and Chancellor Carvery restaurants, both located in the Princess Royal Stand.
If you fancy a beer and a pie then the Cree Lodge is your best bet, whilst champagne and locally caught seafood can be sampled at the Seafood and Champagne bar. Some of the facilities can be booked and some are open to members only. For full details see the appropriate page of the website. On Scottish National day there is a tented village with extra bars and a food court.
There is no full dress code for the Grandstand, although no vests or football and rugby tops are allowed. In the Club enclosure, a smart casual code applies and jeans and trainers are banned along with casual shirts, vests, rugby and football shirts. Many race goers enjoy dressing glamorously, particularly at the Ladies’ Day meetings.
The racecourse is accessible by the A77 from Glasgow or the A70, A75 or A76 from the east of Scotland.
There are good rail links from the rest of Scotland and the racecourse is only a five minute bus ride from the station, or a twenty minute walk. If coming from the south, Ayr is on the London Euston line.
Glasgow airport is a 45 minute drive from the racecourse and Prestwick only fifteen minutes. Helicopters are permitted to land at the course by prior arrangement.
Ferries to Belfast run from Troon, a 15 minute drive from the course and there is also a service from Stranraer to Cairnryan.
- 2-6 Whitletts Road
- KA8 0JE
- Tel: 0870 850 5666
- Fax: 0870 566 5667
- E-mail: email@example.com