The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Friday, 8 April 2011

Can Merigo win Scottish Grand National again at Ayr Racecourse?

By: Iain Ferguson

Merigo, the first Scottish trained horse to win the Coral Scottish Grand National for 28 years when it triumphed at Ayr Racecourse last April, will defend his crown at the Craigie track next week.

[Pictured: Merigo, last year’s Scottish Grand National winner (in green colours with yellow sash) on his way to victory at Ayr Racecourse.]

The Andrew Parker trained, Raymond Anderson Green owned horse had been expected to run in Saturday’s Grand National at Aintree, but at the five day declaration stage it seemed unlikely Merigo would make the cut for the John Smith’s race.

But Aintree’s loss should be Ayr’s gain and the front running, bold jumper could well emulate last year’s success and go in again come Saturday.

Others in with a chance in the £180,000 race include ante-post favourite and Cheltenham National Hunt chase winner Chicago Grey from Gordon Elliott’s Irish yard , David Pipe’s Midlands Grand National winner Minella Four Star, the 2008 winner Iris de Balme and Tim Vaughan’s Beshabar.

The main support race on Saturday’s card is the Isle of Skye Blended Whisky Scottish Champion Hurdle, and leading entries here include Nicky Henderson’s Eradicate, last year’s winner Overturn, Paul Nicholls pair Celestial Halo and Current Event and Michael Scudamore’s Gloucester.

The going at the track is currently good, and the team at Ayr will water if necessary to maintain the ground conditions.

Discounts on advance ticket sales remain in place until Saturday at 4.00pm and for further information contact 01292 264179 or go online at

For further information please contact Iain Ferguson on 07795 565691.

Western House Hotel and Ayr Racecourse scoop top Hotel Awards

Western House Hotel and the Princess Royal Events Centre at Ayr Racecourse scooped four ‘Oscars’ awards at the 2011 Scottish Hotel Awards.

And there was more good news for the Hotel and Racecourse team with four chefs winning gongs at the ScotHot Awards in Glasgow.

Principal prize winners at the Hotel Awards were Blair McBride, Operations Manager at the Racecourse who was awarded a Hospitality Gold Medal, while Laura Winston, Wedding Liaison Manager at Western House Hotel won an Innovative Wedding Service Award.

The Princess Royal Events Centre at the Racecourse won two major prizes – Major Event Venue of the Year and Events and Party Award in the Larger Venue Category.

Malcolm Balish, General Manager of Western House Hotel commented: “The Scottish Hotel Awards are an industry yardstick as to how you are performing, and once again we have seen the hard work of our team recognised in this special way.

“I feel I have a very accomplished team here, and this has been mirrored yet again in the awards.”

Head Chef at Ayr Racecourse Paul Cuthbert led the way at the ScotHot Awards, earning a Merit Award in Senior Meat Dish and Achievement in Food Safety and Hygiene. Gary Evans, Senior Chef de Partie at Western House won a bronze medal for pasta, Chris Campbell, Chef de Partie at Western House earned a Merit Award for shellfish and Danny Mack, commis chef at Western House won the Junior Pasta Merit Award and a hygiene Award.

Executive Chef Donald McInnes commented: “The chefs deserve a great deal of praise for all their hard work and commitment. For four chefs from the one venue to be honoured in such a way is excellent.”

For further information please contact Iain Ferguson on 07795-565691, or visit

Ayr Racecourse and the associated Western House Hotel are founder members of The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Ayr Racecourse launches Ladies Day Competition at Scottish Grand National

By: Iain Ferguson

Ayr Racecourse’s famous Ladies Competition launches early this year with Best Dressed Ladies at the Coral Scottish Grand National Saturday on 16 April being given a chance to win coins for the first time.

And to celebrate the launch Ayr staged a very unusual ‘race’ featuring a couple of Kerr & Smith fibreglass horses, the fabulous Vauxhall Corsa Limited Edition which is first prize at this year’s Ladies Day competition and Girvan girl Amy Gould (pictured above).

Ladies attending the Coral Scottish Grand National on Saturday 16 April will have the chance to win a place in Ladies Day Final at Ayr in September, and the car seen attempting to ‘jump’ the fence is the first prize that day – the superb Vauxhall Corsa Limited Edition from Kerr & Smith.

The runner up will receive a fabulous holiday – four nights in Dubai in four star accommodation with flights direct from Glasgow with Emirates Airlines courtesy of Stewart Travel.

Ladies who are awarded a coin for on 16 April will go forward to Ladies Day Final at William Hill (Ayr) Gold Cup Ladies Day on Friday 16 September when a total of 27 ladies who have won coins at various Ayr race meetings over the year will draw a horse running in the William Hill (Ayr) Gold Cup. The lady who picks the winning horse drives off in the car.

The events where ladies can win a coin are:

• Saints and Sinners Racenight Friday 17 June
• Scottish Sun Racenight Saturday 18 June
• Champagne GH Mumm Ladies Night Saturday 6 August
• Opening Day William Hill (Ayr) Gold Cup Festival Thursday 15 September
• William Hill (Ayr) Gold Cup Ladies Day Final Friday 16 September

Ayr Racecourse marketing manager Lindsey Smith commented: “Our ladies Day competition in renowned through racing, and we are delighted to have the backing of Kerr & Smith as sponsors for the fourth year running.

“This year’s prize is absolutely stunning and we decided to launch early this year so that ladies attending the Coral Scottish Grand National would have the chance to win a coin and secure a place at Ladies Day Final.”

Jim Smith of Kerr & Smith, who have garages in Cumnock, Ayr and Glasgow, added: “It is a special day to launch a very special competition. I am delighted to be associated with Ladies Day for the fourth successive year and I am looking forward to the launch on Coral Scottish Grand National Saturday.”

The Vauxhall Corsa Limited Edition is a three door hatchback with alloy wheels and many extras, and as Jim said: “A fitting prize for the winner of Ayr Ladies Day Final.”

For further information please contact Iain Ferguson on 07795-565691, or visit

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

Monday, 4 April 2011

CKD Galbraith: Scotland’s housing market showing encouraging signs of activity

Scotland’s leading independent property consultancy CKD Galbraith reports positive activity in the residential property market, following research conducted by the firm for the first three months of 2011.

[Pictured: Bob Cherry, partner at CKD Galbraith’s Ayr office.]

Confidence is starting to return to the market, with agents across all twelve of the firm’s offices providing market appraisals on 40% more properties over the first three months of 2011 against the same period last year.

The number of properties sold or currently under offer is also up 49% for the firm as a whole on this time last year. In addition, there has been an increase in the number of prospective purchasers registering with CKD Galbraith, with over 4,500 actively seeking a wide range of properties throughout the whole of Scotland.

Throughout 2010 CKD Galbraith sold property in excess £250 million - covering the sale of residential, sporting, estates and rural property throughout the whole of Scotland. Prices achieved for all properties sold by the firm during 2010 were on average within 0.5% of the asking price, highlighting the firm’s unrivalled local knowledge of the market and expertise in setting prudent valuations.

Latest figures from the Registers of Scotland revealed that Scotland's property prices held their value in the final quarter of 2010, with the average house price just over £158,000, an increase of 1.7%.

Bob Cherry, partner at CKD Galbraith’s Ayr office said: “Our findings have given us good reason to believe that, as we enter the main selling season, the market looks far more favourable than last year. We have been successful in winning a significant level of new business across all 12 of our offices in Scotland, and it is encouraging to see overall transaction levels up by over 49%.

“Buyers are serious about purchasing, assuming the property is accurately priced, as the market is still very much price sensitive. However, quality properties in good sought after locations are attracting a lot of interest and selling well, with many achieving deals over the asking price. In general we expect prices to remain relatively stable during 2011.

“At the other end of the market, there has been clear evidence of a substantial increase across Scotland for first time buyers ready to purchase, with a significant increase over the last year of active buyers in this market registering with us. With the recent announcement of the assisted deposit scheme for first time buyers and an increased appetite to buy from this segment, this will provide a much needed boost for the market as a whole.”

For properties valued above £500,000, cash is often used to secure deals at a good price, enabling the buyers to lock cash in bricks and mortar with no liabilities, a trend experienced by CKD Galbraith. Cash buyers registered on the firm’s advanced marketing database are up by a staggering 72% on last year’s figures.

However, for prospective purchasers requiring a mortgage, latest figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) indicated that house purchase lending in Scotland in 2010 was typically more affordable than in the UK as a whole. 2010 saw 46,800 loans advanced for house purchase in Scotland, an encouraging figure, being only less than 1% down from 2009.

With the mortgage market still unpredictable, supply of funds remains limited and buyers are understandably cautious about taking on extra borrowing. Overall lending forecasts for 2011 are likely to follow a similar level to 2010, with the CML suggesting that gross mortgage lending in 2011 will total around £135 billion. However, over the past few months there has been evidence of increased support and competition from private banks for loans in excess of £1 million.

About CKD Galbraith

CKD Galbraith is an independent property consultancy specialising in serving the needs of private clients. It employs over 180 people in offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Perth, Cupar, Inverness, Aberfeldy, Castle Douglas, Ayr, Elgin, Galashiels, Kelso and Peebles.

The partnership provides the full range of property consulting services across the commercial, residential and rural sectors throughout Scotland. The company enjoys a successful relationship with its associate firm in London, CKD Kennedy Macpherson.

The company’s rural arm specialises in farm sales and purchases, the management and sale of large estates and woodland, valuations and building surveying work.


CKD Galbraith
7 Killoch Place
Ayr KA7 2EA
Ayrshire, Scotland
Contact: R A Cherry BSc MRICS

Tel: 01292 268181
Fax: 01292 292300

CKD Galbraith’s Ayr Office is a founder member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

South Ayrshire Council launches entertainment programme at Ayr Town Hall

An exciting evening of entertainment marked the official launch of the 2011 events programme at Ayr Town Hall as a number of forthcoming acts took to the stage for a special showcase feature event.

[Pictured: singer Nicola Cassell with South Ayrshire Council's new entertainment brochure.]

The event marked the rebirth of Ayr Town Hall as a major entertainments venue in Ayrshire with art, dance, drama, music and song topping the bill in the coming weeks and months both at the High Street venue as well as the Citadel Leisure Centre.

Over the coming months, the programme offers a variety of live entertainment, exhibitions and events featuring many well-known artists as well as the best of our home-grown talent, including:

Sidesplitters Comedy Club (1 April, 6 May, 3 June, 8 July)
Ayr Concert series (6 April – Scottish Chamber orchestra)
Ayrshire Fiddle Orchestra (23 April, 25 June)
Dominic Kirwan (24 and 25 April)
Die Fledermaus (29 April)
Rock at Ayr Town Hall Band Nights (30 April, 21 May, 11 June, 23 July)
Lunchtime pipe organ concerts (from 9 May)
Derek Acorah (14 May)
Burns an’ a’ that Festival (25-30 May)
Tony Christie (11 June – Citadel Leisure Centre)
Lady Boys of Bangkok (21 July – Citadel Leisure Centre).

For the first time, the programme also includes a number of interactive workshops for adults including Glass Fusing, Drawing with Confidence, Textiles Transfer Printing, and Animation. The workshops start in April and are held on Monday or Tuesday evenings and run for six weeks, costing £60 for the course.

Songwriting workshops for young people begin on 20 April and run for eight weeks, with a final performance on Friday 17 June at Ayr Town Hall. The workshops are run by Jamie McGeechan, alias ‘Little Fire‘, who was the winner of 2010 Battle of the Bands. The workshops run on Wednesday evenings with two age categories: 10-13 years and 14 years +. The cost is just £24 for the course.

The exciting Shining Stars Stage School for children and young people begins on Wednesday 20 April and runs for eight weeks with sessions for young people aged 4-7 years, 8-11 years, 12 years +. Groups cover dance, drama and singing and participants will take part in a final grand performance in Ayr Town Hall on Friday 17 June. The cost is £48 for the course.

Harry Garland, South Ayrshire Council’s Executive Director for Children and Community, said: “We have a fantastic programme of entertainment and events in Ayr over the coming weeks and months featuring music, drama, art, song, dance and everything in between, offering something for everyone.

“This marks a new beginning and a very vibrant future for entertainment in South Ayrshire and if the launch event was just a flavour of what we have ahead, I really can’t wait to see what’s next.

“This is an important step in the wider development of the arts and culture scene in South Ayrshire and will help put all our venues firmly on the map.

“We’re also giving local people the chance to develop their own skills with a variety of interactive workshops for the budding artists and stage stars of tomorrow, which I’m sure will prove very popular indeed.”

For further information on the programme, or to make a booking, call the Box Office on 01292 269793 or TicketWeb on 0844 477 1000. Alternatively, log on to or