2017 Ayr Scottish Grand National Festival Preview

The Scottish Grand National Festival takes place over Friday and Saturday and there are some terrific contests for punters to get stuck into. Here are the major races…

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Friday, April 21st

3:50pm – The Listed Hillhouse Quarry Handicap Chase

Leading Contenders: Two Taffs, Theinval, Calipto

Saturday, April 22nd

2:10pm – The G2 Future Champion Novices’ Chase

Leading Contenders: Clan Des Obeaux, Cloudy Dream, Flying Angel

2:45pm – The G2 Scottish Champion Hurdle

Leading Contenders, L’Ami Serge, Sceau Royal, Diego Du Charmil

3:20pm – The Listed Scotty Brand Handicap Chase

Leading Contenders: San Benedeto, Vaniteux, Cold March

3:55pm – The G3 Scottish Grand National Handicap Chase

Leading Contenders: Missed Approach, Vicente, Vivaldi Collonges

Both Friday’s and Saturday’s Ayr cards are strong throughout.

Racing At Ayr

Ayr Racecourse can be found at Whitletts Road, Ayr, Scotland. This famous and historic course was opened in 1907. At Ayr, there are tracks for both flat and for National Hunt racing.

While there are many historic racecourses in the UK, few can match Ayr. Horse racing in this city dates back to the 16th-Century, although the first official meeting was not held until the late 1700s.

This was in an area called Seafield. The course was a mile in length and the track was oval-shaped. Bends were infamous for being extremely sharp and testing for horses that did not turn well.

Ayr’s Aristocratic Heritage

The Caledonian Hunt (along with various members of the Scottish landed-gentry) provided the financial muscle in the early days of racing at Ayr. Important figures include the Earl of Eglinton, Sir James Boswell and the Duke of Portland.

In the early 1800s, Ayr’s most prestigious race fixture, the Western Meeting, was created and (within a few years) it offered £2000 in total prize-money. The most important event (the Ayr Gold Cup) was a handicap race. Created for sprinters, the modern-day Ayr Gold Cup is the richest sprint in all of Europe.

The course was relocated in the early 1900s and is now in the Craigie area of Ayr. After a great deal of research into other UK racecourses, the designers took their inspiration from Newbury Racecourse in England. A jumping course was added in the 1950s and in the mid-1960s the Scottish Grand National was transferred to Ayr.

A Versatile Venue

Nowadays, there is a very good variety of flat races at Ayr. Distances range from just 5 furlongs to 2.5 miles. The track is left-handed and regarded as being very flat. Any undulations are minor and this is particularly true with regards to the finishing straight.

The chase course is also left-handed. This is a one and a half mile circuit and there are 9 fences for the runners and riders to negotiate. They run downhill to the home-turn and there is a slight incline to the finish.

It comes as no surprise that Ayr has been voted Best Racecourse in Scotland and the North East on many occasions. Quite simply, there is nowhere in Scotland that stands in comparison to this incredible racing theatre.

Good luck, if you are betting at Ayr this weekend!

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