Ayr Racecourse

Racecourse Office, 2 Whitletts Road, Ayr, Scotland, KA8 0JE - Map & Directions
01292 264179
Entrance to Ayr Racecourse
Entrance to Ayr Racecourse (Billy McCrorie / geograph.org.uk)

Ayr racecourse is arguably the most famous track in Scotland, and has been voted the best racecourse in Scotland and the North East 19 times by the Racegoers Club, including the previous nine in a row.

Most famous for hosting the Scottish Grand National, Ayr accommodates both flat and National Hunt races with races held throughout the racing season. As well as the Scottish Grand National, Ayr is also host to the famous Ayr Gold Cup, whilst regular visitors and participants in race days include Tony McCoy, Frankie Dettori and Ruby Walsh.

Formerly known as the Paddock Stand, the stand at Ayr was renamed the Rothesay Stand in 2012, in honour of Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay. Ayr is the largest racecourse in Scotland, with a maximum capacity on Grand National day of a little over 18,000. Just a 40-minute drive from Glasgow, Ayr is extremely accessible by car, whilst Ayr station is served by all parts of the country and is just a ten-minute walk from the track.

Ticket Prices

Ayr Racecourse
Ayr Racecourse (william craig / geograph.org.uk)

Ticket prices at Ayr are extremely generous, with grandstand tickets starting from between £15 and £22 for all race days, including the Scottish Grand National. There is also a ticket package available for festival events, so customers are treated to a discount for attending for more than one day at a time.

Club tickets are slightly more expensive, starting at £42, whilst the course also offers a ticket and travel bundle deal for all race days, where a return bus ticket from selected destinations in Scotland is included for a small increase in price.

Under 18s are allowed entry to the course free of charge when accompanied by a full paying adult, whilst concessions are eligible to a £6 discounted ticket price for the more popular events, with this discount increased to £10 for regular race days. As well as this, disabled customers can take advantage of a 2-for-1-ticket offer when accompanied by their carer.

The Course

Ayr remains the only Grade 1 track in Scotland and is predominantly flat with some occasional gentle undulations, stretched over an area of 155 acres. An oval shaped course of 12f, the course at Ayr is a left-handed galloping track hosting both flat and National Hunt action.

Flat races at Ayr are run over distances ranging between 5f and 2m 4f, with the sprint events exclusively taking place on a slightly undulating straight track. The jumps course features nine fences, which are considered fairly average in their difficulty.

Keep An Eye on Conditions

Any jockey wishing to scoop himself a winner at Ayr should pay very close attention to the state of the ground. Conditions, especially during the winter months, can become particularly gruelling and when they do, patient tactics can pay off as front runners often find themselves tiring as the race progresses.

When the ground is faster, however, jockeys cannot afford to hang back quite so much as making up that ground is a tough ask, even though the run-in is gradually uphill. This is particularly true during flat races where the ground can easily run away from horses if their riders aren’t alert.

Another thing jockeys must be aware of on the flat course is their positioning coming into the final bend. It’s a downhill gallop prior to the last left handed bend and taking it too wide can prove very costly. Any horse finding themselves on the outside of a busy pack ends up having to travel a long way before they can simply run straight toward the line.

Low Draw Looks Best

By most accounts, Ayr provides horses with a fair test of their abilities. The corners are well-graduated, the track is spacious and there are no fences you’d consider unfair or overly tricky. There does perhaps seem to be a little luck involved stemming from the draw bias though.

Data for the last 10 years shows that horses handed a higher draw on the straight track, with at least eight runners, have fared significantly worse when looking at return on investment. Unsurprisingly, they also won fewer races and placed less too, although the differences here aren’t so great.

The same is true regarding return on investment but to a larger extent when upping the distance. Contests of a mile long, which take place on the round course as opposed to the straight, have also shown favouritism towards those drawn further from the rail.

We’re inclined not to put too much weight on the numbers because they rather contradict what was previously thought to be the draw bias at Ayr. For one-mile races, however, this only reinforces the widely held consensus.

Research based on one mile handicaps run between 2005 and 2009 featuring 10 or more runners saw the lowest three draws win 48% of all races. The bias also carries true on the round course for seven furlongs but it’s traditionally stronger over one mile. While that’s a relatively small sample size in terms of the period the stats are taken from, it remains a bias worth considering.

Major Meetings at Ayr

Ayr Racecourse 2013 Gold Cup Festival
Ayr Racecourse 2013 Gold Cup Festival (The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle / Flickr.com)

Up to 30 race days take place every year at Ayr, and the most famous event held is without doubt the two-day Scottish Grand National festival meeting, which is held annually in April and features the Scottish Grand National as its headline race. The SGN is run over a distance measuring 4m½f with 27 fences, and is open to horses aged five years old or over.

Since moving to Ayr form Bogside in 1966, there have been 46 different winners of the national, including legendary horse Red Rum who was victorious under Brian Fletcher in 1974. The SGN has been covered on Channel 4 since 1986 and it has only grown in popularity since its conception. First prize for the winner in the first race in 1867 was a mere £100, compared to the first prize in 2011 being recorded at a staggering £102,618.

As well as the national, Ayr is also host to the Ayr Gold Cup, which is a three-day festival every September, with the main race, the 6f Ayr Gold Cup, being run on the final day. The race consists of the 27 highest weighted horses to enter, with those excluded permitted to enter the Silver Cup.

Dining and Hospitality

The hospitality team at Ayr racecourse offer a number of different packages in order to make your experience as memorable and enjoyable as possible. There are two separate restaurants on site – The Roman Warrior restaurant, and The Chancellor Carvery restaurant.

There are also a number of private boxes available for groups of between 20 and 100 people, and the boxes and dining facilities vary in price depending on your package. There are three packages – Silver, Gold and Platinum – and they range between minimum prices of £125 - £165 per person depending on the race day, with a maximum charge of £280 per person. As well as this, there is also the four star Western House Hotel located at the racecourse, with 49 luxury bedrooms.


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