The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

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.