Everything You Need To Know About Ayr Racecourse
Last updated & tested: 2020-02-09
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Ayr races date back to Tudor times and the reign of Elizabeth I when Mary, Queen of Scots was her prisoner south of the border, though it was another 200 years in 1771 when the first official meeting was held. By 1824, the Western Meeting – what we know today as the Ayr Gold Cup Festival – was established, so there is a long and illustrious association with Flat racing here. National Hunt action by contrast is relatively new addition to Ayr racecourse with a jumps track added in 1950. This followed a relocation of the venue for racing from Sealfield area to Craigie in 1907 with the new course modelled on Newbury in Berkshire.
When Bogside racecourse closed, the Scottish Grand National was moved to Ayr in 1966. Since then, as it is home to the two most famous races in Scotland, this left-handed track is regarded as the top venue for horses across both codes in the country. There was even a Scottish Derby run at Ayr until 2005. Unlike the English equivalent, though, it was opened to horses aged three and up and held Group 2 status rather than being considered a Classic. Ayr horse racing is thus dual purpose and diverse offering Scottish punters a bit of everything from 5f sprints to one of the longest distance National Hunt events in the calendar.
Top bookies for races at Ayr
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Some Ayr racecourse upcoming events for you to bet on
As we mentioned earlier, Ayr races are contested on both the Flat and over jumps at different times in the year and there is one major event held for each of these horse racing spheres. There’s something for everyone, then. Here are the main Ayr racecourse upcoming events you need to know about…
Scottish Grand National meeting an April highlight
The two-day National Hunt meeting towards the end of April builds right up to the Scottish National. An extended 2m 4f handicap chase that holds Listed status is the big betting race on the Friday before the graded action takes centre stage on the Saturday. Two-mile horses get the chance to showcase their talents first with another Listed handicap chase over fences and then the Scottish Champion Hurdle.
That latter race is now run as a limited handicap yet retains Grade 2 status over an extended 2m. The Scottish Champion Hurdle attracted particularly illustrious National Hunt horses during the 1970s with subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Captain Christy (1973), Night Nurse (1976) and Sea Pigeon (1977 and 1978) giving the contest a touch of class.
With it being so close to the end of the jumps season, however, and its modern status as a limited handicap, entries aren’t quite so glamorous nowadays. The Grade 2 Future Champion Novices’ Chase over an extended 2m 4f has thrown up something interesting winners. Pacha Du Polder (2012), for example, has gone on to land the Foxhunters’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival twice.
And so to the Scottish Grand National itself. This extended 4m Grade 3 handicap chase is one of the longest National Hunt races in the British Isles and, although held usually just a couple of weeks after the English equivalent at Aintree, it can be a trial for the Merseyside showpiece. This is because horses aged five and over can contest it and, although it is very rare for any horse under the age of seven to attempt it, the Scottish National is such a test of endurance that you have to stay to get the trip.
Since moving to Ayr racecourse in 1966, no horse has ever won this big race more than twice. Vicente (2016 and 2017) is the most recent multiple winner of the Scottish National. The Ayr horse racing roll of honour for this ultimate test of stamina contains subsequent Grand National winners Little Polveir and Earth Summit, and even the great Red Rum have all landed the spoils in modern times here.
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Ayr Gold Cup Festival the September feature
The middle of September is home to the Flat racing only three-day Western meeting as it used to be called. Thursday is the opening day and the feature of this card is the Listed 1m 2f Doonside Cup that is open to three-year-olds and up. As the Ayr Gold Cup is so historic and prestigious, there are consolation races in the Bronze Cup and Silver Cup held over the same 6f trip.
While the Bronze Cup is on the Friday alongside two Listed sprints over the flying five furlongs in the juveniles only Harry Roseberry Stakes and Arran Scottish Fillies’ Sprint Stakes, the Silver Cup helps punters get in the mood for the big race on Saturday. Also on Gold Cup day at Ayr races is the Group 3 Firth Of Clyde Stakes – a 6f test for two-year-old fillies only.
The Gold Cup itself used to be ran over 2m, then became a handicap in 1855 and shortened to a mle in the 1870s before settling on its current trip of six furlongs in 1908. As a proud part of Scottish sporting heritage, the race used to be limited those horses bred and trained in the country, but it is of course more open in scope these days for three-year-olds and up.
Betting on Ayr racecourse for upcoming events – our recommended bookies
When it comes to betting on the big races at Ayr, we couldn’t just put one bookmaker forward as the main events in different spheres have some long-standing sponsorships that cannot be ignored by punters. Coral have been betting partners of the Scottish National for some years. They also sponsor the Welsh equivalent at Chepstow and several other events over the two days at Ayr racecourse. What Coral can offer you is extra places on the Scottish National, their Bet & Get Club which gives you bonuses for betting so much through them each week, and the best odds guaranteed on all UK and Irish horse racing usually from the night before a race takes place. That’s a great for the jumps action taking place at Ayr, but what about the Flat? William Hill are long-standing sponsors of the Gold Cup here and are also the official betting partners of ITV Racing. Watch out for their 2 Clear promotion available on all Flat races broadcast on terrestrial TV in the UK. Price boosts and enhanced odds on winning margins are a daily occurrence on the William Hill sportsbook, where you also get the best odds guaranteed and look out for more place terms on the Bronze and Silver Cup races as well as the big one!
All the Ayr races betting tips you need
Whether it’s the Scottish National, Gold Cup or one of the other group, graded or Listed races taking place at Ayr, then we’re sure to have an opinion on it. One of the great things about horse racing is there’s always something going on. That’s not just limited to events at Ayr either. Our experts eat, breathe and sleep horse racing, so they know a value punt when they see one. The betting tips they provide are considered and insightful because we make sure they are across all the form so you don’t have to be. It’s great if you have to the time to check out a racecard and make your own mind up, but modern life is busy and we’ve done all the legwork for you. Our tipsters not only make a main selection, but will also tell you what the main dangers or alternatives there are to consider. Each-way betting on the Gold Cup is big business as a maximum field of 27 runners can go to post. That means there may be value in backing a horse to place as well as win, so we consider this angle for big field handicaps at Ayr and all around the British Isles. There’s something for every type of punter in the betting tips you’ll find on OpenOdds.
Tips for races at Ayr
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Want expert advice on Ayr horse racing? We can help
As a punter, we know that you want to be alerted to the latest Scottish National or Ayr Gold Cup entries as soon as they are released – particularly if you’ve taken an ante post punt on either of these big race handicaps. There’s also the weights and latest betting news to consider, so here at OpenOdds we’re across all of that. A betting first approach to developing stories, markets being opened and the latest entries for early closers leaves you in no doubt as to the chances of your fancy for races at Ayr or any course in the British Isles. Taken together with the betting tips our experts provide, you should have everything you need to enjoy a great gambling experience.
If you’re new to it all, though, and need a helping hand getting to grips with betting terms and the world of horse racing, then we can oblige. OpenOdds are committed to aiding new punters in understanding the betting types and all the jargon that has built up around this great sport. Why not visit our glossary section where all of these things are explained to you in plain English and with examples? You can bet with confidence through us thanks to a series of handy articles designed to inform and educate.