The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Friday, 17 April 2015

Coral Scottish Grand National Festival gets under way today at Ayr Racecourse

By: Iain Ferguson

BIG fields and some of the top names in horseracing will be in abundance at Ayr Racecourse today (Friday 17 April) for the opening day of the Coral Scottish Grand National Festival. 


Horses from all over the UK and Ireland will be competing in the seven race card, including runners from the leading stables of Nicky Henderson, Alan King, Jonjo O’Neill, Sue Smith and Nigel Twiston-Davies. 

The highlight is the £40,000 Hillhouse Quarry Handicap Chase, a Listed Race, which has a field of 13 including Alan King’s Hollow Penny, Brave Spartacus from the Keith Reveley yard and Brian Ellison’s Conquisto. 

Nicky Richard, who has a great record at the track, saddles Sir Vinski, the mount of Brian Harding in the Abbott Risk Consulting Novices’ Handicap Hurdle, while AP McCoy, just eight days away from retiring has three mounts during the afternoon, including Tap Night (pictured above) in the Hillhouse Quarry Chase in the famous JP McManus colours. 


[Pictured: AP McCoy with trainer Lucinda Russell.]

McCoy also features among the 30 riders in Saturday’s £210,000 Coral Scottish Grand National when he takes the mount on Paul Nicholls Benvolio. Last year’s winner Al Co is also a runner with young Sean Bowen in the saddle, and Tom Scudamore rides Broadway Buffalo for David Pipe. 

Club badges for Saturday have sold out in advance for the first time in the history of the race. 

The ‘sold out’ signs for club were put up late on Tuesday night, although Grandstand tickets are still available, but racecourse bosses are urging these are either booked in advance or people turn up early on the day. Crowd capacity on the day will be 16,500. 

The opening day of the two day Coral Scottish Grand National meeting still has Club and Grandstand tickets available although hospitality on both days is sold out. 

Ayr Racecourse managing director David Brown said: “We are gearing up for two extremely busy days, and everything is indicating a massive crowd of 16,500 on Saturday. 

“To sell out club for the first time in advance is tremendous and shows just how popular this meeting is. Hospitality has also been sold out for both days for quite some time. 

“I stress to anyone who intends coming racing on Saturday and who haven’t yet purchased a ticket that only Grandstand tickets are available, and to either attend early on the day or book in advance.” 

Ayr have upgraded some facilities ahead of the meeting by installing a new purpose built Paddock Lawn Marquee, a permanent structure, and creating new toilet facilities in the Chancellor Hospitality Restaurant on the first floor of the Princess Royal Stand. 

The Coral Scottish Grand National Festival takes place today and Saturday. There are seven races on the opening day with eight on Saturday. In total there is more than £580,000 in prize-money. 

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.


Thursday, 16 April 2015

AP McCoy to ride in Coral Scottish Grand National Festival at Ayr Racecourse

By: Iain Ferguson

AP McCoy, who rode Shutthefrontdoor to come fifth in last Saturday’s Crabbie’s Grand National at Aintree, will now be in action at the Coral Scottish Grand National Festival at Ayr Racecourse this weekend.


The champion jockey (pictured above) is booked to ride Jonjo O’Neill’s Capard King in the Abbott Risk Consulting Novices’ Handicap Hurdle on Friday, and is likely to have many more mounts at the meeting.

McCoy, who earlier this year announced his intention to retire, will now ride on until 25 April and the season’s final meeting at Sandown.

The champion’s sole win in the Scottish Grand National came in 1997 on board Belmont King for Paul Nicholls.

It is unclear what McCoy will ride in Saturday’s £210,000 Coral sponsored race, the highlight of the two day, 15 race Festival. 

Ayr Racecourse managing director David Brown said: “Everyone at Ayr is looking forward to welcoming AP McCoy here for the Coral Scottish Grand National Festival.

“It is fitting that his fans north of the border will now have the opportunity to see AP in action at Scotland’s biggest jumps Festival.

“This traditionally is our best attended meeting, and AP McCoy’s presence will undoubtedly lead to an unprecedented rush for tickets. 

The current favourite for the Coral Scottish Grand National is Gallant Oscar, trained in County Meath by Tony Martin, at 10/1.

The highlight of Friday’s card is the Hillhouse Quarry Handicap Chase, which this year has Listed status for the first and carries a healthy £40,000 prize fund. There are 32 entries for this including horses from the top stables of Nicky Henderson, Nigel Twiston-Davies, Philip Hobbs, Alan King and Nicky Richards.

Sandra Hughes aims for Irish-Scottish National double 

IRISH trainer Sandra Hughes is aiming for a Grand National double at Ayr on Saturday when she runs Raz de Maree in the Coral Scottish Grand National.

Sandra, who took over the licence in November 2014 after her father Dessie died, saddled Thunder And Roses to win last Monday's Irish Grand National.

She now intends to come to Ayr on Saturday to capture the £210,000 Coral Scottish Grand National with Raz de Maree, who was runner-up to Goonyella, another intended runner at Ayr on Saturday, in the Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter earlier this year.


Other intended runners include Jonjo O'Neill's Catching On, top eight Sam Winner from the Paul Nicholls stable, Lucinda Russell's Lie Forrit (pictured above), and last year's winner Al Co, a faller at the first in Saturday's Grand National at Aintree. 

Meanwhile Paul Nicholls has two of the highest rated horses in Saturday's £100,000 QTS Scottish Champion Hurdle, the main supporting race on Coral Scottish Grand National Saturday.

He has highly talented Irving, the top weight and winner of this season's Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle and also the five year-old Calipto.

Ayr Racecourse managing director David Brown said: “We have first class horses remaining in both the principal races, and with 216 entries across Saturday's eight races and a further 196 for Friday's card we have all the top stables in the country with representatives including a healthy number of Irish based entries.”

The Coral Scottish Grand National Festival takes place on Friday and Saturday and there are seven races on the opening day with eight on Saturday. In total there is more than £580,000 in prize-money.

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.


Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Supply constraints continue to drive up house prices in Scotland

Buyer enquiries and house sales remain 
steady despite lack of supply 

House sales and buyer enquiries in Scotland grew steadily in March, while the number of properties coming onto the market continued to lag behind demand, pushing prices rapidly upwards, according to the latest RICS UK Residential Market Survey.


[Pictured: Sarah Speirs, Director RICS Scotland.]

Throughout Scotland, the supply versus demand imbalance led to 21% more surveyors reporting rise in house prices during March and 27% more surveyors expecting prices to increase over the next three months.

Overall the demand for residential property remained steady in Scotland, with 11% more surveyors reporting an increase in new buyer enquiries, and 9% more surveyors reporting an increase in newly agreed sales during March. 

Sarah Speirs, Director RICS Scotland, said: “The initial boost given to the housing market by the Help to Buy scheme has begun to dissipate and activity levels have slipped back. The new Land and Building Transaction Tax was implemented at the beginning of April. and we will monitor the potential impact this has had on all market levels. 

“There have been indications of price increases in recent months, as the supply of stock to the market continues to fall. Anecdotal evidence does suggest that election uncertainty and the impact of the drop in oil prices may be having some impact on the market, but underlying the trends visible in the latest survey indicates a very real housing crisis which will urgently need to be addressed by the next UK government.”

Northern Ireland continues to outperform the rest of the UK with the strongest house price growth in March and the highest price expectations over the next three months. However, across much of the rest of the UK, particularly in Wales and Scotland, price gains over the next three months are expected to be much more moderate. 

Robbie Buchanan, Graham + Sibbald commented: “Demand is outstripping supply at present and this has resulted in quicker sales and a modest increase in prices levels for houses.”

In London, a lack of prospective buyers saw enquiries and the number of agreed sales both fall for the 11th consecutive month and 24% more surveyors reported a decline in the number of new properties coming onto the market for sale.  

However, compared to the start of the year when 42% more surveyors reported a decrease in prices, just 13% more surveyors saw prices fall in March and across the whole of the UK, the average surveyor sold 19.5 properties - reflecting activity since Autumn - although it remains some way down on where it was in the early part of 2014. 

RICS housing market survey is the longest running monthly survey of house prices in the UK, collecting data since January 1978. The survey is cited by the Bank of England's monetary policy committee at its monthly interest rate setting meetings.