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Racing at Ayr dates back to the 17th century but the current track has only been open since 1907. Scotland’s premier course, its big meeting of the year is the Western meeting in September which has as its showpiece the Ayr Gold Cup, a valuable 6f handicap run on the sprint course which extends the 3f beyond the entrance to the back straight. The track itself is just over 1m4f in circumference.
The draw advantage on the sprint course can vary depending on ground conditions and where the stalls are placed but it definitely appears to be a plus to be drawn high if the stalls are positioned on the stands’ side on quicker going. On the round course, in races over 7f and 1m, it pays to concentrate on those with a single-figure draw as it is a sharp turn into the straight and those drawn high are often forced wide.
It is not for nothing that Dandy Nicholls is known as the sprint king and he has a particular affinity with the Ayr Gold Cup having trained the winner on six occasions since the turn of the century. The Portland Handicap at Doncaster remains the best trial for the race with four of the winners since 2000 having raced on Town Moor the previous week. Sir Mark Prescott’s runners, Richard Fahey’s two-year-olds, Keith Dalglish’s three-year-olds and David O’Meara’s older horses do well at Ayr throughout the year and watch out for Mark Tompkins’ raiders in the longer race at the Western meeting.
Ayr racecourse can be accessed via the A77 and A719 and is approximately 12 minutes walk from Ayr station.
AYR (NATIONAL HUNT)
The big National Hunt meeting of the year is in April when the 4m1f Scottish National is staged. Relatively flat, the fences are not particularly testing except the open ditch early in the home straight which always catches out a few as the pace is usually quickening at that point. There is a relatively long run-in on the chase course but not on the hurdles course.
There has been jumping at Ayr since 1950 but it only really took off when nearby Bogside was closed in 1965 and the Scottish National was transferred. The Scottish Champion Hurdle is now also run on the same day as the Scottish National and usually attracts some smart handicappers. As the ground is rarely soft in April, it is always worth having a second look at lightly-raced hurdlers with a decent Flat rating in this Grade 2 and those that have run well in either the County Hurdle at Cheltenham or the Swinton Hurdle at Haydock that year should go to the top of the list. Lisa Harrison’s runners in low-grade events have a good strike rate and Donald McCain and Pauline Robson’s chasers also do well in the main.
Saturday 11th March Results
Friday 10th March Results
Monday 27th February Results
Tuesday 14th February Results