The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Trainer Olly Murphy saddles a treble at Ayr Racecourse

By: Iain Ferguson

TRAINER Olly Murphy made the 650 mile round trip from his Warwickshire base pay off by saddling a treble at Ayr’s May Jumps meeting last Monday.

First up was Miles To Milan, a 6-4 chance, in the Book Direct At Western House Hotel Beginners' Chase. Jockey Aidan Coleman settled him in the back and he got the better of odds on favourite Clondaw Kaempfer in the home straight to win by a comfortable length and a quarter.


[Pictured: Miles to Milan, one of three winners for trainer Olly Murphy and jockey Aidan Coleman at Ayr Racecourse on Monday.]

The Coleman - Murphy combination doubled up with Weebill (5-6 fav) landing the Get Daily Tips at Racinguk.com Novices' Hurdle by seven lengths from Bialco.

The hat trick was completed for both trainer and jockey when Finawn Bawn won the concluding national hunt flat race at odds of 9-4.

Brian Hughes, named earlier in the day as the new number one rider for the powerful Donald McCain stable, celebrated by riding a double.

He gave Return Ticket (11-10 fav) an ultra-confident ride in Division One off the Book Now for the Scottish Sun Raceday Maiden Hurdle to win comfortably, and then followed up in division two of the maiden hurdle on 20-1 shot Shankill Castle for trainer Mike Smith.

Mike said afterwards: " Brian is the best jockey in the north, if not the whole of the UK. I’ll use him when he’s available, and I hope I can help him be champion jockey one day.”

The opening race on the card, a two mile five furlong handicap hurdle, was won by Final Reminder, 10-1, for Fife trainer Nick Alexander and jockey Grant Cockburn.

Flat racing makes it bow for the year at the track on Tuesday 22 May and Wednesday 23 May with May Raceday followed by Tennent’s Raceday.

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.


Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Scotland’s oil and gas sector sustains strong international reputation

ternational activity from Scotland’s oil and gas supply chain expanded to account for almost 55% of the industry’s total sales during 2016/17.


Scottish Enterprise’s annual Survey of International Activity in the Oil and Gas Sector shows the sector delivered £10.4 billion of international sales, made up of £4.5 billion from direct exports and £5.9 billion from sales via international subsidiaries.

Reflecting the challenging year for the sector, the figures also reveal a 14.4% drop in total sales (domestic and international combined) for the year with the overall figure reaching just over £19 billion.

Commenting on the results, head of oil and gas at Scottish Enterprise, David Rennie, said: “This latest survey helps reinforce the fact that, despite the global downturn, Scotland’s skills and expertise in the oil and gas industry put it in a strong position to continue winning an impressive share of the contracted global market. While the overall level of sales fell during this period which was to be expected, the rise in the international sale reinforces our position as a global hub.

“Helping companies to grow their international activity continues to be a priority for us and we are delighted that over 70 companies have joined us this year on the Scotland pavilion at OTC in Houston, one of the world’s largest oil and gas shows.  Events like these make a huge difference to companies looking to grow their international presence, helping them showcase their world-renowned skills and experience and build important new contacts.”

According to the survey, the United States, Norway and the United Arab Emirates were the top markets for international activity and looking ahead, eight out of ten businesses are optimistic about sales growth in the coming years.

The survey, which was conducted by Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce on behalf of Scottish Enterprise, captures responses from 250 companies who are active in 111 countries worldwide and employ over 31,000 employees in Scotland.

Commenting on the survey, Aberdeen Grampian Chamber of Commerce chief executive, Russell Borthwick, said: “The energy sector has long been a significant contributor to the Scottish economy and this survey tells us that despite a challenging few years we can be confident that it will remain so. The progress that has been made in collaboration and innovation gives real cause for cautious optimism that the UKCS will remain viable as a profitable oil and gas production basin for many years to come.

“And the growing trend towards supply chain companies moving into overseas markets gives real encouragement that the goal of ‘anchoring the supply chain’ in North-east Scotland is achievable based on the world-leading technology, knowledge and experience developed in the North Sea being highly sought after at an international level.”

Scottish Enterprise is Scotland's main economic development agency and aims to deliver a significant, lasting effect on the Scottish economy. Its role is to help identify and exploit the best opportunities for economic growth. It supports ambitious Scottish companies to compete within the global marketplace and helps build Scotland's globally competitive sectors. It also works with a range of partners in the public and private sectors to attract new investment to Scotland and to help create a world-class business environment.


Sunday, 29 April 2018

South Ayrshire businesses give their backing to the new look AMBITION

Businesses are lending their support to a new programme designed to drive economic growth and help start-up companies to succeed. South Ayrshire Council officially re-launched its AMBITION programme at a workshop at the University of the West of Scotland in Ayr on Wednesday 25 April.


[Pictured: South Ayrshire Councillors gather to celebrate AMBITION.]

Since 2013, more than 500 local businesses have received support via the programme for the benefit of South Ayrshire residents.

Mags Grace from Ayr set up her company Flying Feet in 2017. Her podiatry business specialises in the treatment of cabin crew. The AMBITION programme provided Mags with invaluable advice and support.

She said: “The support I received from AMBITION and the Council’s Business Gateway Service quite literally got my business off the ground.

“My adviser offered a whole range of advice from banking and accounts, to suggesting relevant workshops to develop my own business skills. Although it’s still early days, I now have the resources, connections and business knowledge I need to drive my business forward.”

The new AMBITION programme has a specific focus on supporting growth for existing businesses and help for individuals to start-up new companies.

Councillor Brian McGinley, South Ayrshire Council’s Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, Tourism and Leisure said: “We’re committed to supporting local companies to maximise their performance, creating business growth, and securing new jobs for South Ayrshire.  

“We’re actively working to make the most of the local economy and in the next three years we’ll be encouraging businesses to plan for growth in measured and sustainable ways.

“The new AMBITION programme is part of a bigger picture and I’m sure the new support will be welcomed in the business community. The feedback we’ve already had has been positive and I’d urge anyone with plans to expand to contact our team to find out more.”

The new Ambition to Achieve programme will provide new and existing businesses with access to a range of specialists in sales and marketing, finance, digital, procurement, people, innovation, and management development. 

Ambition to Grow discretionary grant funding will support businesses during periods of transition.  The grant is open to applications from new and existing South Ayrshire businesses to help deliver projects that create employment opportunities. Grants from £500 to £5,000 will be provided on up to 50% of qualifying project costs (10% in the case of capital expenditure).  The Ambition to Grow grant is for businesses looking to hire at least one additional full-time employee within the next 24 months.

Ambition to Start is aimed to help get businesses up and running, with grants available of up to £1,000 to cover start-up costs including capital expenditure and working capital.  The Ambition to Start grant is for also businesses with the ambition to hire at last one full-time employee within a two-year period.

For more information on AMBITION and to apply to the programme CLICK HERE 

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


Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Joe Farrell wins Scottish Grand National 2018 at Ayr Racecourse

 By: Iain Ferguson

THE closest finish ever in a Coral Scottish Grand National at Ayr Racecourse saw 33-1 chance Joe Farrell hold on by a nose from Ballyoptic to land the £122,000 prize and give trainer Rebecca Curtis and jockey Adam Wedge their biggest ever success.


[Trainer Rebecca Curtis and jockey Adam Wedge 
celebrate their success at Ayr Racecourse.] 

It was an enthralling race, and at one point it looked as if Vicente was going to create history by becoming the first horse in more than 100 years to win three consecutive Scottish Grand Nationals. Sam Twiston-Davies had his mount perfectly situated on the outside of the pack, but his jumping didn’t stand up in the home straight, and he had to settle for a gallant fifth place. 

But take nothing away from the brilliant Joe Farrell who denied Ballyoptic’s trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies his fourth win in the race. Ironically Nigel also had the runner up last year in Cogry.

The story behind Joe Farrell is one of a horse whose career has been hampered by injury, but he turned up in fine fettle at the Craigie track on Saturday and delivered in spades. He led three out, and at that stage it looked as if it was just a matter of how far, but Ballyoptic and jockey Tom Bellamy had other ideas, and the crowd were left wondering who had won as the two horses flashed past the post. 

But when the announcement went up that Joe Farrell had won Rebecca Curtis was one relieved woman. She’s had a rotten season one way or another, but to win the Coral Scottish Grand National has changed everything. Speaking in the Winners Enclosure after the race, Rebecca said: “I own a quarter of him. I bought him quite cheaply out of John Ferguson’s sale. He had broken down on both his front legs. I took a chance with him and thankfully he’s won a big race. It’s paid off. 

“It’s my first time ever in Scotland and to win a race like this is unbelievable. I’ll be back.”  

Jockey Adam Wedge rode Court Minstrel to win the 2013 QTS Scottish Champion Hurdle but Saturday’s success was by far his biggest ever and he said afterwards: “I had no idea I’d won. I thought Tom had just beaten me, so I was overjoyed to hear my boy called the winner.” 

Among the other highlights over the two days was the win of Midnight Shadow in the QTS Scottish Champion Hurdle for trainer Sue Smith and jockey Danny Cook. Danny said: “I’ve landed a few good pots this season, but this is the best.” 

Value At Risk won Friday’s Hillhouse Quarry Handicap Chase Listed Race for trainer Dan Skelton and his jockey brother Harry, while the new £100,000 race on Saturday the Dawn Homes Novices’ Championship Handicap Chase was captured by 22-1 outsider Crosshue Boy for trainer Sean Doyle and jockey Harley Dunne. 

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.



Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Food and Drink mapped out for Ayrshire

The List publishes Ayrshire Larder Food and Drink Map 

Ayrshire's Food and Drink producers have long been putting the area on the map. But now, thanks to an Ayrshire wide initiative by the Ayrshire Food and Drink Steering Group, it's Ayrshire putting Food and Drink on its own map.

Produced by popular Listings publisher, The List, in conjunction with all three Ayrshire Councils, the Ayrshire Larder Food Map is a comprehensive guide to some of the many producers, retailers, cafes and restaurants in Ayrshire, all the way from Ballantrae to Largs and taking in the islands of Cumbrae and Arran too.

Councillor Brian McGinley, Economic Development, Tourism and Leisure Portfolio Holder for South Ayrshire Council said: "Ayrshire is famous the world over for quality food and drink and this map will help to cement our position. It's packed with information and showcases everything from our largest producers to those hidden gems. The new leaflet also highlights 3 food trails Burns, Coastal & Seafood and Picnic which will prove invaluable as people 'taste' their way across Ayrshire. We will continue to work with our partners to bring the very best of Ayrshire produce to as many people as we can."


The map, launched at the Visit Scotland Tourism Expo 2018, www.visitscotlandexpo.com/ will be widely distributed in public buildings, shops, cafes, accommodation and tourism venues throughout Ayrshire and beyond.

Further details of the The List's Ayrshire Larder Food Map can be found  HERE 

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


Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Gordon going for a Grand National treble

By: Iain Ferguson

TRAINER Gordon Elliott will aim for a hat trick of Grand National victories this weekend when he hopes to have two runners in the £215,000 Coral Scottish Grand National at Ayr Racecourse.


Gordon, (oictured above), who won the Irish Grand National with General Principle and then followed up with Tiger Roll triumphing in the Randox Health Grand National at Aintree on Saturday, could run Fagan, owned by Scottish businessman Ronnie Bartlett, and Folsom Blue in the Ayr race.

If one of these two horses wins the race the trainer will became the first person ever to hold the three National titles at the same time.

History could also be made in the race if Vicente, winner in 2016 and 2017 were to land this year’s renewal and become the first horse in 105 years to achieve three wins on the bounce.

Trevor Hemmings, who owns Vicente, will also see his colours carried by the Sue Smith trained Vintage Clouds.

Nigel Twiston-Davies, who has trained the winner of the race three times with Captain Dibble (1992), Earth Summit (1994) and Hello Bud (2009), has several remaining entries – last year’s second and third Cogry and Benbens and Ballyoptic.

Paul Nicholls, who has also been successful in the race three times - Belmont King (1997) and Vicente (2016 & 2017) - has Silsol entered in addition to Vicente.

The declarations for the race will be announced shortly after 10.00 am on Thursday.

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.


Friday, 13 April 2018

Public exhibition will showcase plans for the new Ayr Grammar Primary

Proposals to breathe new life into the old Ayr Academy are being put to the public. An exhibition is being held at Ayr Town Hall on Thursday 19 April to highlight plans to relocate Ayr Grammar to a new home on Fort Street.

The exhibition comes as the planning application for the new Ayr Grammar is submitted for consideration. If approved, the £16 million project would create a new primary school with capacity for more than 430 pupils, a new early years centre with 50 places, community arts facilities as well as a new Archive and Registration Centre. 


There has been a school on the town centre site since 1233, with the old Ayr Academy built in 1880. The school relocated to its new home at Craigie Estate in summer 2017.

The new project will see the historic buildings completely refurbished and remodelled to create an inspiring modern facility with a bright new entrance connecting the school, early years and community facilities. The proposals also involve the demolition of obsolete extensions at the back of the school, a move that will create external space for playgrounds, external teaching and car parking. 

The project will be delivered through hub South West, who have appointed Morrison Construction, and a design team led by BDP Architects. Planning Consent has been granted for the demolition work, which is expected to start on site early in the summer. 

If approved, construction would start later this year, with completion scheduled for 2020.

Councillor Peter Henderson, Portfolio Holder for Resources and Performance said the project was now at an important stage, “We want South Ayrshire to be the best it can be and for all people and places to have the opportunity to reach their full potential, and our schools programme plays an important role in that wider work. 

“The plans to breathe new life into this landmark building would leave a lasting legacy for generations of families, and with the proposals submitted for consideration, now is the time for the public to get involved.

“I’m sure there will be a great turnout for the Town Hall exhibition where people will have an opportunity to view the plans and speak directly to the team to find out more. Alternatively, anyone looking to find out more can also find the plans online on the Council’s planning portal where they can have their say directly.”


The Archive and Registration Centre will be a separate building (illustrated above) with its entrance on South Harbour Street, providing public access to archive material as well as registration services.

The public exhibition, including images and drawings of the new buildings, takes place at Ayr Town Hall on Thursday 19 April between 2:00pm and 8:00pm to give an opportunity to view the proposals, ask questions and provide feedback.

The plans will be available to view soon on the Council's planning portal https://www.south-ayrshire.gov.uk/planning/register.aspx

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


Ayr business goes from strength to strength after contract win

An independent retailer from Ayr has been appointed to supply all three Ayrshire Councils with specialist goods. A1 Ironmongery sought out advice and training to help them to deliver on their initial ambition to become a supplier to South Ayrshire Council, with the end result representing a significant opportunity to grow their business.


Ayr-based A1 Ironmongery (pictured above) has been appointed a place on a National Framework to deliver general ironmongery, ground care tools, fixings, adhesives, sealants and silicon’s to local Councils.

Scotland Excel, the Centre of Procurement Expertise for Scotland's local government sector tendered The Trade Materials Framework, which was open for applications. A1 Ironmongery has now been appointed onto the Framework for two years, with an option to extend for a further two years.

The news comes at a time when a concerted effort is being made to make it easier for smaller companies to secure public sector contracts. As part of South Ayrshire Council’s commitment to growing the local economy and working with businesses, staff outlined the process to A1 and highlighted additional help available from the independent Supplier Development Programme (SDP), which provides training and support to SMEs to compete for Scottish public sector contracts. 


[Pictured left to right: Billy Andrew (SAC); Zoe Fance (SAC); Ivie Kerr, Director of A1 Ironmongery;  and Cllr Peter Henderson, Portfolio Holder for Resources and Performanc.]

Councillor Peter Henderson, Portfolio Holder for Resources and Performance said: “We’re committed to supporting local businesses, and helping people understand that there are opportunities for smaller companies to secure public sector contracts is an important part of our work.

“Too often in the past we’ve heard from owners who felt they couldn’t compete with big business, but by taking a strategic approach and identifying realistic ways of working with the public sector, there’s no reason why the process shouldn’t be open to all.

“I’m pleased to see that A1 Ironmongery will have opportunities to work with us in the coming years, primarily with our housing and property teams, and I look forward to seeing the relationship develop in the months ahead.”

Director of A1 Ironmongery, Ivie Kerr said: “Securing a place on the framework presents us with a significant opportunity to extend what we do and realise fresh growth from our base in Ayr.

“We’re proud to have been given the opportunity to work with our own local authority, South Ayrshire Council, as well as with neighbouring East and North Ayrshire, and we’re hoping the new contract will help our business go from strength to strength.

“Competing for an appointment like this is a daunting task, but there is help available from organisations that can guide you through the process. I’d like to thank everyone, especially our own staff, that have helped us secure our first public sector contract.”

For more information on South Ayrshire Council’s contract opportunities contact: procurement@south-ayrshire.gov.uk

For more on available public sector contracts: www.publiccontractsscotland.gov.uk

For more on the Supplier Development Programme: https://www.sdpscotland.co.uk/

For more on A1 Ironmongery: http://a1ironmongeryayr.co.uk/

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



Thursday, 5 April 2018

Vicente for Scottish Grand National hat trick?

By: Iain Ferguson

VICENTE could attempt to be the first horse to win three consecutive Coral Scottish Grand Nationals at Ayr Racecourse in more than 100 years after being named as one of 78 entries in this year’s race.


[Pictured: Vicente winning the Scottish Grand National last year.]

The last horse to claim that honour was Couvrefeu II, whose glory run came in 1911, 1912 and 1913 and now trainer Paul Nicholls is eyeing making his own bit of history with the Trevor Hemmings owned nine-year-old.

Vicente, quoted at 14-1 by sponsors Coral, first won the race in 2016 as a seven-year-old, and repeated the feat last year, with Sam Twiston-Davies riding on both occasions.

Cogry and Benbens, both trained by Sam’s father Nigel, second and third in the race last year, also hold entries for the £215,000 contest, while Missed Approach, trained by Warren Greatrex and the winner of the Kim Muir at Cheltenham last month, looks set for the Ayr feature.

Leading Irish trainer Gordon Elliott, who won the Irish Grand National earlier in the week with General Principle has entered Fagan, owned by Scottish businessman Ronnie Bartlett, and Folsom Blue.

West country trainer Colin Tizzard, whose Native River recently won the Cheltenham Gold Cup, holds five entries including Sizing Codelco and Sizing Tennesse. 

Lucinda Russell will attempt to win her first ever Coral Scottish Grand National with the highly talented Big River.

Champion trainer Nicky Henderson has three entries, with the most notable being Beware The Bear, fourth in the Ultima Handicap Chase at Cheltenham last month.

The main supporting contest on the day, the £105,000 QTS Scottish Champion Hurdle, has attracted 49 entries with some very highly rated hurdlers among them.

Last year’s winner Chesterfield, from the Seamus Mullins yard, is set to defend his crown, while the 2016 winner Ch’tibello trained by Dan Skelton also holds an entry, and others that take the eye include the Nicky Henderson trained Jenkins and Kevin Ryan’s progressive five-year-old Beyond The Clouds.

Coral make another Nigel Triston-Davies trained horse Ball optic, fourth in the RSA Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham, the early 12-1 favourite.

The full list of betting from Coral is :

12 Ballyoptic, 14 Fagan, Missed Approach, Sizing Tennessee, Vicente, Vintage Clouds, 16 Big River, Doing Fine, Folsom Blue, 20 Baywing, Beware The Bear, Bigbadjohn, Cogry, Daklondlike, Henry Parry Morgan, Impulsive Star, Looking Well, Seeyouatmidnight, Sugar Baron, The Dutchman, 25 Bar

For further information please contact Iain Ferguson on 0101292 294972 or 07795 565691.

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



Thursday, 29 March 2018

Ayrshire Growth Deal moves ahead as UK Government signals early support

The team behind bold multi-million plans for the regeneration of Ayrshire say UK Government support is a major step forward for their ambitious proposals.

The Ayrshire Growth Deal aims to take forward a number of transformational projects across the region. 

The Ayrshire Growth Deal team say the commitment made by Prime Minister Theresa May during a visit to Ayrshire this week will help them start bringing a range of those projects to life.


[Pictured: UK Prime Minister May examines the products at textile producers Alex Begg in Ayrshire during a during a visit to the county this week.]

At the heart of the proposals put forward is Inclusive Growth - creating opportunities that benefit everyone across all of Ayrshire's communities. The Ayrshire Growth Deal will provide significant investment in the key sectors of aerospace and space, life sciences, manufacturing and tourism.

The Growth Deal team – which includes the three Ayrshire Councils and national agencies, with support from the private sector – have been lobbying hard to gain the guarantee of financial support from the UK Government.

The Scottish Government have already made a firm commitment to progressing the Deal.  

During her visit to Ayrshire – as part a one-day tour of the UK – the PM confirmed that talks would now formally begin over a new Ayrshire Growth Deal.

Councillor Douglas Campbell, Leader of South Ayrshire Council, said, "Today's announcement from the Prime Minister and the UK Government on the start of formal talks is a welcome and positive step forward in turning the Ayrshire Growth Deal from an ambition into a reality. It's testament to the huge amount of time and effort that we've put in over the last couple of years to bring both the UK and Scottish Governments to the table and to get them to buy-in to Ayrshire's potential.

"The Growth Deal is more than just a set of projects – it's about investment and jobs, the transformation of our economy and our communities, and, ultimately improving lives.

"With the backing of both the Scottish and UK Governments and talks about to get underway, we want to hit the ground running to discuss exactly what support and funding they will be putting in place so we can get to work on delivering a terrific deal for the people of Ayrshire."

Councillor Joe Cullinane, Leader of North Ayrshire Council, said, "We have developed projects, visualised how they will map out and how they will positively impact the local, Scottish and UK economies. It is been hard having these potentially transformational plans without being able to take them significantly forward.

"It is now fantastic that we have reached this stage and we're excited about what it could mean for Ayrshire. We have worked hard to identify projects that will benefit not only our local economies but also the wider Scottish one too.

"Inclusive growth is key to these proposals and we firmly believe that the Ayrshire Growth Deal will deliver economic growth that will enrich all our communities.

"We feel these proposals are ambitious and would make a huge difference to the Ayrshire economy. We can now take these forward and that is really exciting."

Councillor Douglas Reid, Leader of East Ayrshire Council, said, "We welcome this commitment from the UK Government and in particular, recognition from them that Ayrshire has indeed the potential to provide growth for the Scottish and UK economies, with the assets and ambitition available in this area.

"The Ayrshire Growth Deal team outlined their proposals in a strategic business case that highlighted that, with government support, they could make a long-term change to the Ayrshire, Scottish and UK economies.

"They put forward a compelling case for government intervention through investment in business support, skills, strategic infrastructure and local communities."

The HALO project in Kilmarnock which was included in the Growth Deal proposals has already secured £7m of investment - £3.5m from the Scottish Government and £3.5 from the UK Government.

Other potential Ayrshire Growth Deal projects include:

The growth and development of the aerospace industry at Prestwick Airport and securing the  UK's first spaceport there
Development of Irvine Harbourside and Ardeer Peninsula
Ayrshire being considered as the UK location for a Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre
Regional transport appraisal to lead to improvements to the road and rail infrastructure particularly the main arterial routes
Investment at Bellfield Interchange and A76, providing essential links to the northern powerhouse and to open up additional development land across Ayrshire
Development of industrial space at Moorfield Kilmarnock
Complementary investment in digital infrastructure
Further development of industrial and business premises in key locations.

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