The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Vicente makes Scottish Grand National history at Ayr Racecourse

By: Iain Ferguson

SAM Twiston-Davies and Vicente wrote their names into the record books at Ayr Racecourse last Saturday, becoming the first jockey and horse combination in 32 years to win back-to-back Coral Scottish Grand Nationals.

[Pictured: Vicente puts in a spectacular leap on his way to winning 
the 2017 Coral Scottish Grand National at Ayr Racecourse.]

After falling at the first at Aintree two weeks ago, Vicente came to Ayr a fresh horse running at a track he obviously loves, and he travelled superbly throughout.

Turning into the home straight it just looked a matter of how far but up ahead Cogry, ironically trained by Sam’s father Nigel and ridden by his friend Jamie Bargary, wasn’t going down without a battle and fought all the way to the line with the winning margin only a neck.

Trainer Paul Nicholls was delighted to win the race for a second successive year and for the third time in all, and the £122,400 first prize edged him closer to Nicky Henderson in the trainers’ championship.

The closest finish over the two days came in the QTS Scottish Champion Hurdle with Chesterfield, trained by Seamus Mullins and ridden by 23 year-old conditional rider Dan Sansom wearing down the Paul Nicholls trained Zubayr by a short head.

It was a particularly strong renewal of the race with L’Ami Serge, who finished fifth and Sceau Royal (ninth) setting the standard running off a BHA mark of 155.

The Jordan Electrics Ltd Future Champion Chase was won by the Malcolm Jefferson trained, Brian Hughes ridden Cloudy Dream who came late and fast to beat Theinval by two lengths. This was an impressive performance from a horse who had been an unlucky second in the previous year’s QTS Scottish Champion Hurdle.

Another Saturday winner who caught the eye was the Nicky Henderson trained Vaniteaux and ridden by Noel Fehily who was much too good for his rivals in the Listed Scotty Brand Handicap Chase coming home five lengths clear of Romain De Senam.

The Listed Hillhouse Quarry Chase with £50,000 in prize-money attracted horses from several leading southern stables and Dan Skelton’s Two Taffs had the race in the bag a long way out under a very confident Dan Skelton ride.

Two Taffs was following up a win in a hurdle race at the meeting last year.

For further information please contact Iain Ferguson on 01292 294972 or 07795 565691.

Ayr Racecourse and the associated Western House Hotel are Founder Members of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Elite Ayrshire Business Circle NEXT MEETING

We are delighted to cordially invite you to attend the next Elite Ayrshire Business Circle business breakfast networking event, which will take place at 8am on Friday 5 May in the clubhouse of Dundonald Links golf course.

Dundonald Links will play proud host to the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open & Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open in July.

At our meeting, European Tour commercial manager Bob Gordon will preview these events, which are an exciting coup for Ayrshire, and which will undoubtedly provide a substantial boost for the local economy.

In addition, members will be given the opportunity to give a mini- presentation of 5-10 minutes to the meeting, outlining recent successes and achievements. If you would like to showcase your company at the meeting, please e-mail

Finally, our meeting will afford the usual excellent opportunity ty informally network with other top Ayrshire business people, and a complimentary buffet breakfast will be served.

Everybody attending this meeting will be given priority booking rights to the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle Annual Summer Luncheon at Turnberry in July.

In order to facilitate catering arrangements, please RSVP your reply to this invitation to:

Elite Ayrshire Business Circle
Norman Geddes (Executive Chairman)
Murdoch NacDonald (CEO)

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Grass roots restoration takes Ayr Esplanade back to its former glory

A project to reinstate badly eroded verges along Ayr Esplanade is breathing fresh life into the area. South Ayrshire Council has restored the embankment along the raised walkway, with tall grass now knitting the soil together and protecting Low Green from the unpredictable weather blowing in from the beach.

Durable Marram grass has been planted along the 
esplanade boundary to protect Low Green from the elements.

In recent years, the one mile stretch of grass verge between Pavilion Road and Blackburn Drive has been cut away by strong winds, storms, and sand being blown in from the coast, with some sections having been driven back by several feet.

The newly restored verge will help to prevent future erosion.

In the first phase of the restoration project the worst affected parts along the stretch from the play area to midway along Low Green have now been restored, with fresh earth packed in along the boundary, and with long Marram grass, commonly found in sand dunes, planted to help knit the soil together, protecting the boundary.

Mike Newall, South Ayrshire Council’s Head of Neighbourhood Services said the work would help protect the area for years to come, “Ayr beach remains a popular place in the summer months, but fierce winds and shifting sands have eroded the verge over time.

“To protect the area in the years ahead we’ve created a new boundary along the esplanade and planted durable beach grass, helping to bond the earth together.

“This sustainable method to reinstate the front also offers protection against Ayrshire’s sometimes challenging weather, and means we’ll soon see the embankment restored to its former glory.”

This is another sustainable project from South Ayrshire Council which was recently recognised for its restoration work, with the Troon Dune Restoration programme having won a number of awards in 2016, including the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee’s 'Best waste minimisation or prevention project' award.

The second phase of work will form part of the winter programme for 2017/18.

South Ayrshire Council is a Founder Member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

South Ayrshire schoolboy makes history at Hampden Park

Lauchlan Connelly (13) from Prestwick Academy was on the pitch at Hampden for Scotland’s World Cup qualifier against Slovenia recently but he was not a mascot, or even a ballboy, Lauchlan was making history becoming the first ever person to sign the national anthem at a Scotland International football match.

It was a memorable night for Lauchlan (pictured above), who signed his way perfectly through “Flower of Scotland” despite being in front of thousands of fans and live on TV!

He said: “It was the best experience of my life so far. It was nerve-wracking but exciting too. I was scared and took a deep breath and when I looked down I saw the camera and felt like a superstar”

Lauchlan first learned sign language at primary school and although he has no problem speaking, he wanted to make sure he could communicate with other deaf people. 

Douglas Hutchison, Director of Educational Services at South Ayrshire Council said: “Congratulations to Lauchlan, it was a great experience for him and he did very well despite the nerves. We are always keen to support our young people to realise their ambitions and there should be no barriers to this. I would like to thank our hearing impairment team for their support and the SFA for arranging this special moment.” 

Lauchlan could well become Scotland’s lucky talisman! He has been asked to sign the national anthem at the next 3 home games against England, Malta and Slovakia in October.

South Ayrshire Council is a Founder Member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

National Excellence Accolade for Ayr Racecourse

Ayr Racecourse has been named as one of the top racing venues course in the UK in a national awards scheme, one of only 15 tracks to be awarded Racecourse Association (RCA) Excellence Awards.

[Pictured: Ayr Racecourse managing director David Brown.]

And Scotland’s premier racecourse was also one of two courses to be bestowed with a “Lovely Loos” Accolade in recognition of the cleanliness and overall standard of its lavatories.

Ayr also retained its five-star VisitScotland visitor attraction status.

For the eighth year the Racecourse Association has operated its Quality Assured Racecourse Scheme, which allows every UK racecourse to be assessed and rated against other tourism attractions, in partnership with tourism bodies VisitScotland and VisitEngland .

The national tourism boards provide a rating on the racecourses as a quality day out, taking into account efficiency and friendliness of customer service, cleanliness of facilities and friendliness of customer service, cleanliness of facilities as well as speed, quality and efficiency of the racecourse operation.

Ayr Racecourse managing director David Brown commented: “We are thrilled to receive this national recognition which reflects well on the team here at Ayr.

“It is encouraging to be given this award as we prepare for our busiest meeting of the year in just over three weeks’ time, the Coral Scottish Grand National Festival, with the Saturday certain to be a sell-out once more.

“It gives us renewed confidence to know our efforts are being recognised in this way.”

RCA chief executive Stephen Atkin added: “British Racecourses have demonstrated that they offer a  fun, exciting and value for money day out when compared to other attractions.”

For further information please contact Iain Ferguson on 01292 294972 or 07795 565691.

Ayr Racecourse and the associated Western House Hotel are Founder Members of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Ayrshire artists rub shoulders with established names for annual showcase

Art lovers across South Ayrshire are being invited to see work from a range of diverse and inspiring artists at Arts of Rozelle in Ayr this Spring. Three exhibitions will fill Rozelle House, and the Maclaurin Galleries from Sunday 26 March.

Following on from the phenomenal response from visitors to the Alexander Goudie exhibition of ‘Tam o’ Shanter’, the spotlight is shifting to focus on the work of Glasgow artist, Frank McFadden (pictured above), a retrospective of the work of Yvonne Hawker (pictured below), and new work from the Open Studios Ayrshire.

Supported by the Council, and in partnership with the Maclaurin Trust, these three exhibitions represent the work of artists working and living in South Ayrshire, emerging new talents, while being mindful of those no longer with us.

About the artists

Open Studios Ayrshire. At Rozelle House the Galleries will be filled with the works of members of Open Studios Ayrshire. This is a non-profit organisation representing artists and makers working throughout Ayrshire. Their main annual event being ‘Open Studios’ 21st -24th April 2017, work is being exhibited from each member at the annual showcase.

Frank McFadden. In the Maclaurin Galleries, Frank McFadden, a brilliant artist and protégée of Peter Howson, puts on his first ever solo exhibition. ‘Metanoia’ explores one of Frank’s favourite expressions “there is no system or formulae for a happy fulfilling life!” His work suggests we start simple, with the truth; we are more alike than unalike.

Yvonne Hawker. Also in the Maclaurinn, this retrospective  remembers the work and life of Yvonne Hawker, who died in 2001. Yvonne was inspired by South Ayrshire and the exhibition reflects on her beautiful ethereal work, featuring examples on loan from her family, friends and patrons. The exhibition also reveals work created during her time in Hong Kong, her interest in the religious beliefs of the Cathars, and her illness and untimely death.

Additionally at Rozelle House, 19 paintings, from the phenomenally successful Goudie exhibition of Tam o’ Shanter have been selected to remain on show as part of the permanent collection. They still tell the tale to great effect, showing Goudie’s observation and skill in bringing to life the energy and pace to the well-known local story.

Jill Cronin, South Ayrshire Council’s Head of Enterprise, Development and Leisure said the event provided a great platform for talent old and new, “We’re committed to supporting the arts in South Ayrshire and this year’s programme is testament to some of the inspiring events we have on offer.

“With artists such as Frank McFadden, exhibiting alongside Open Studios Ayrshire, this benefits our own local artists, who will be given a great opportunity to learn from established talent.

“Coming hot on the heels of the runaway success of our Alexander Goudie Tam o’ Shanter exhibition, we’re confident this latest addition to the cultural calendar will prove to be a big hit in the coming weeks.”

The Open Studios Ayrshire showcase will be followed up by the Open Studios Ayrshire’s much anticipated Weekend Event which takes place between 21-24 April this year. Artists and makers throughout Ayrshire will open the doors to their studios or shared venues to share their practice and work with the public. Four Artists – Sandra Ratcliffe, Christine Logan, John Atkins and Jim Gourlay - will be working in Rozelle House over that weekend.

South Ayrshire Council is a Founder Member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Trainers’ championship showdown at Coral Scottish Grand National Festival

By: Iain Ferguson

SCOTLAND’S biggest and richest race meeting the Coral Scottish Grand National Festival will, for the second year running, feature a ‘showdown’ for the British jumps trainers’ championship.

But this year it is Nicky Henderson, currently £150,000 ahead, who is challenging champion Paul Nicholls and not Willie Mullins who ran the champ so close last year.

[Pictured: Trainer Paul Nicholls and jockey Sam Twiston-Davies celebrate last year’s Coral Scottish Grand National win when Vicente triumphed.]

In fact Nicholls virtually clinched the title in 2016 by winning the Coral Scottish Grand National with Vicente, and is targeting the £122,000 first prize this year with Arpege D’Alene - fourth in the JT McNamara National Hunt Challenge Cup at Cheltenham last week.

Like Vicente, a seven year-old, Arpege D’Alene is part-owned by Sir Alex Ferguson, and the Ayr race has long been his target.

The Coral Scottish Grand National is the second richest race behind the Grand National, still to be run for this season, so will play a pivotal part in the trainers’ race.

Both Nicholls and Henderson are likely to have runners in the four Class 1 contests at the Coral Scottish Grand National Festival, which include the QTS Scottish Champion Hurdle which carries a winners’ prize of almost £60,000.

Scotland’s richest race meeting takes place on Friday 21 April and Saturday 22 April and tickets are selling fast.

The Saturday card has sold out in advance for the last two years and will undoubtedly do so again this year. For more information and to book tickets go online at or call 01292 264179.

For further information please contact Iain Ferguson on 01292 294972 or 07795 565691.

Ayr Racecourse and the associated Western House Hotel are Founder Members of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

South Ayrshire Council flies flags at half-mast

Flags at South Ayrshire Council’s headquarters – County Buildings in Ayr – are flying at half-mast today (23 March) to commemorate the terrorist attack in London yesterday and to honour the injured and those who lost their lives.

South Ayrshire Provost Helen Moonie said: “Yesterday’s events in London were a senseless and unwarranted attack on the freedom, democracy and values that we hold dear within the United Kingdom.

“The thoughts and prayers of the people of South Ayrshire are with all those affected, especially those who lost their loved ones.

“It’s shocking that lives could be taken so cruelly as people went about their daily business or – in the case of PC Palmer – doing the job he loved to keep others safe.

“We must stand tall in the face of such attacks and show that we are united and will not allow our values, freedom and humanity to be undermined.”

South Ayrshire Council is a Founder Member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Jockey Brian Hughes and trainer Nick Alexander on fine form at Ayr Racecourse

By: Iain Ferguson

BRIAN Hughes rode five winners while trainer Nick Alexander saddled four horses to win over Ayr’s two-day March meeting recently.

Hughes bagged a treble at Tennent’s Raceday on Saturday to add to his brace on Friday.

His Saturday successes came on Desert Cry, a horse co-owned by Sunderland boss Davie Moyes, in the Craigie Cup, Lochnell (pictured above) in the mares’ handicap hurdle over two miles five furlongs and Calix Delafayette in the national hunt flat race.

On Friday Brian rode Marlee Massie and Gold Opera to victories for Nick Alexander who also won with Another Mattie on Friday and The Bishop on Saturday.

Borders trainer Stuart Coltherd recorded a double success on Friday with Hurricane Rita winning the two mile four and a half furlong handicap hurdle followed by Surprise Vendor in the two mile hurdle. Both horses were ridden by Stuart’s son Sam.

And Lucinda Russell was on target with Vertigo, evens favourite, ridden by Alexander Thorne, an impressive winner of the two mile five furlong maiden hurdle on Friday while she saddled Imjoeking to win on Saturday.

Ayr’s next meeting is the Coral Scottish Grand National Festival on Friday 21 April and Saturday 22 April. For more information and to book tickets call 01292 264179 or go online at

For further information please contact Iain Ferguson on 01292-294972 or 07795-565691.

Ayr Racecourse and the associated Western House Hotel are Founder Members of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Star Wars, Elephants and Fingal's Cave! 'Fantastic' schools orchestra concert

Budding musicians from South Ayrshire schools came together to perform at a sell-out concert last month.

The South Ayrshire Schools Orchestra Concert takes place every year and gives talented youngsters the chance to play in front of a capacity audience at Ayr Town Hall.

Around 250 young musicians amazed the crowd with their talents as they played everything from feature film music to other classical favourites.

The South Ayrshire Schools Strings Orchestra was first on stage; they played a rendition of The Final Countdown which was a hit for Europe back in 1986. The orchestra which features 120 musicians (P4 – P7) from primary schools across South Ayrshire then followed this up with the impressive New World Symphony by Dvorak.

The next performance was from the South Ayrshire Schools Symphony Orchestra which is made up of 80 pupils (S1 – S6) from a number of our secondary schools. Conducted by Elaine Rietveld, the orchestra played the enchanting Baby Elephant Walk and then delighted the audience with some Star Wars favourites.

Last to perform was the South Ayrshire Chamber Orchestra which features some of our best young musicians. They did not disappoint as they played the superb Mendelssohn’s Concert Overture ‘Hebrides’ also known as Fingal's Cave. 

Soloists Matthew Terras (S6 – Prestwick Academy) and Sean Morrison (S6 – Queen Margaret Academy) then enthralled the audience with the Concerto for violin and cello in A minor by Brahms. They played faultlessly and it’s no surprise that Sean has been selected to lead the West of Scotland Schools Orchestra later this year.

The Chamber Orchestra’s performance was rounded off with a foot tapping tune from Tchaikovsky and the enthusiastic audience clapped along as the gifted musicians played their hearts out.

There was a surprise for three of the performers on the night.

Naomi Priestnall P7 from Glenburn Primary), Mitchell Lamont S5 from Belmont Academy and Sean Morrison from Queen Margaret Academy, received a special tutors’ award in recognition of their commitment and dedication to their respective orchestras.

The evening was a great success with all the proceeds just over £370 going to the Ayrshire Hospice.

Parent, Joan Brockie said: “Fantastic concert. Thank you to everyone involved.”

Another parent, Jillian Plunkett commented: “Amazing – I was blown away by how great they sounded. Fantastic experience”

Douglas Hutchison, Director of Educational Services at South AAyrshire Council said: “I know the young people taking part had been practising for many weeks and this certainly paid off as their performances were first class. 

“Last year over 1,200 children and young people from our primary and secondary schools received musical instruction. These concerts are a tribute to our outstanding instrumental music service and a great way of inspiring our young people to even greater heights as well as building confidence at the same time.”

South Ayrshire Council is a Founder Member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

Friday, 10 March 2017

CKD Galbraith offers for sale contemporary detached Ayrshire country house

Leading independent Scottish property consultancy CKD Galbraith is offering for sale The Beeches, a contemporary, detached country house situated about one mile outside the village of Dunlop and overlooking its own grounds of just under two acres. 

The property forms part of a small exclusive development created in 2008 from the original West Langton Farm – a beautiful Georgian farmhouse and steading – with each property being detached and carefully planned to ensure maximum privacy yet with a neighbourly feel.

The accommodation of The Beeches is on one level and finished to an exacting standard. 

The living room has a high vaulted ceiling with skylight windows pulling in natural sunlight and a log burning stove. 

The kitchen is equally impressive. Lots of windows ensure the room is bright and at almost 24 feet in length there is plenty of scope for relaxed entertaining. The white wooden units are complimented by a silver range cooker and a chunky sleeper beam separates the kitchen from the dining area. There is a separate utility room. 

The Beeches has four double bedrooms. All have fitted wardrobes and easy access to a nearby bath or shower room. The master bedroom is ensuite and also has a dressing room.

The gardens of The Beeches are landscaped and face west with panoramic views towards the Isle of Arran, Ailsa Craig and on a clear day the peaks of Ben Lomond. A level lawn surrounds the house interspersed with mature trees and is a haven for playing children. The courtyard at the rear of the house is shared with two properties nearby. Adjacent is a paddock of about 1.4 acres which is well fenced and providing excellent grazing. There is also a single garage.

Offers Over £425,000 are being sought. 

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About CKD Galbraith

CKD Galbraith is an independent property consultancy employing 236 staff in offices across Scotland including Edinburgh, Stirling, Perth, Cupar, Inverness, Castle Douglas, Ayr, Elgin, Galashiels, Kelso, and Aberdeen, offering local knowledge, national expertise and enjoying international reach.

The firm is Scotland’s largest and leading rural consultancy managing and providing advice on farm, forestry, land and estate interests on over three million acres. CKD Galbraith provides the full range of property consulting services across the residential, commercial, rural and renewable energy sectors throughout Scotland and northern England.

CKD Galbraith 
7 Killoch Place 
Ayr KA7 2EA 

Contact: R A Cherry BSc MRICS 
Tel: 01292 268181 
Fax: 01292 292300 
To find out more about CKD Galbraith visit

CKD Galbraith’s Ayr Office is a Founder Member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.