Ayr Racecourse featuring the Scottish Grand National

Ayr Racecourse was opened in 1907 and has therefore been in working operation for over 100 years, with Scottish racegoers frequently attending race meetings at this track and none come bigger than the Scottish Grand National which takes place shortly after the English equivalent.

At Ayr Racecourse, there are courses specifically designed for both Flat and National Hunt racing. Racing actually dates back to 1576 although the first meeting in Ayr only took place in 1771 and the racecourse was a 20th century establishment.

Bet on the Scottish Grand National

The Scottish Grand National is the biggest race north of the border, with this encounter over a distance of four miles and this race is open to entrants who are five-years-old or older. It’s a Grade 3 encounter and features several leading chasers who compete at this stiff track for glory.

Similar to the English Grand National at Aintree, this is a race which has several difficult obstacles and there are 27 fences to be jumped, with this race always taking place during the month of April and forms part of the two-day Scottish Grand National Festival Meeting.

Between 2015-2019, the Scottish Grand National was won by horses with a different age, with the 11yo Wayward Prince having obliged in 2015 before Vicente won back-to-back titles in 2016 and 2017 at the age of 7 and 8 respectively.

Joe Farrell was an impressive 9yo winner a year later before Takingrisks obliged as a 10yo, with jockey Sean Quinlan landing victory for trainer Nicky Richards. It’s clear a race which rewards strong stamina and the going is regularly on the soft side.

Bet on the Scottish Champion Hurdle

Although the English Champion Hurdle is run at Cheltenham and the English Grand National is run at Aintree, when it comes to Scottish National Hunt racing then you have the Champion Hurdle on the same day as the Grand National.

As is the case at Cheltenham, the Scottish Champion Hurdle is a two mile encounter and is a true test of hurdling at speed, with this left-handed track encounter proving to be a spectacular occasion and the race is open to horses aged four or over.

The overall purse for this race is now over £100,000, with Sea Pigeon and Birds Nest having been the only horses that have won the race twice and those runners actually won the Champion Hurdle consecutively between 1977-1981.

Verdana Blue was the 2019 winner of the Scottish Champion Hurdle for crack trainer Nicky Henderson, with Midnight Shadow and Chesterfield also recent victors.

Other Key Races at Ayr Racecourse

One other National Hunt race that takes place at Ayr is the Future Champion Novices’ Chase, with this being a Grade 2 encounter over two miles and four furlongs.

The Ayr Gold Cup is a six furlong encounter and is probably the most prestigious Flat horse race that takes place at Ayr Racecourse. This race takes place towards the end of the Flat season and coincides with the running of the St Leger at Doncaster.

Strangely, the 2018 race was dead heated which meant Baron Bolt and Son of Rest winning the race, with Brando, Don’t Touch and Louis The Pious the other horses who have recently triumphed.

Other Flat races that are run in September are the Harry Rosebery Stakes, Doonside Cup and Firth of Clyde Stakes, while we also have the Rothesay Stakes in May and the Land O’Burns Fillies Stakes the following month.