Ayr Racecourse Guide

Ayr Racecourse
The Course (william craig / geograph.org.uk)

Ayr Racecourse lies on the western Scottish coast and is around an hour away from the city of Glasgow. It is one of five racecourses still in operation in Scotland and one of only two that offers both flat and National Hunt racing, meaning there is action here all year round.

Ayr has a long traditional of horse racing, with the first record of a racing there going back to 1576. The racecourse we know today however wasn’t built until much later, in 1907, and since then it has become a thriving hub for racing in Scotland, hosting at least one meet every month.

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The Course

The designs for the track at Ayr were based on those of the famous course at Newbury but there is one major difference in that the straight course at Ayr six furlongs, two furlongs shorter than at Newbury. Longer races will see horses take on the left handed oval track which is around a mile and a half in length with several gentle undulations.

For National Hunt racing, Ayr will either lay out six hurdles, three on either side of the bend, or for chase events, there are nine separate fences including two with an open ditch. It’s a wide track which gives horses the chance to find space while jumping and is one that is considered to be a very fair test for all those competing.

Given where the course is located, Ayr does receive its fair share of wet, windy and cold weather and while sometimes conditions can become rather boggy, all things considered, it deals with the weather well. The sandy soil combined with hard work and planning from the ground staff ensure that cancellations are kept to a minimum.

Major Races

Ayr hosts a range of top class flat and jump events between April and September with all but one of them featuring on weekend meetings. The big jump races include the Scottish Champion Hurdle, the Future Champion Novices’ Chase and the lucrative and gruelling Scottish Grand National.

As for flat racing, Ayr hosts four listed races between May and September as well as one Group quality race, the Group 3 Firth of Clyde Stakes. None of their notable flat races are especially long in terms of distance, with most of them being sprints and the remaining two being run at a distance of one mile and two furlongs.

Ayr’s biggest race however is the Ayr Gold Cup, a six furlong handicap open to three year olds and above. It is Scotland’s most valuable handicap event and also the richest sprint handicap in the whole of Europe. It is one that always attracts a big field and an even bigger crowd who are eager to cast their eyes on what is always a great spectacle.


Ayr Racecourse Stands (william craig / geograph.org.uk)

With so much racing held at Ayr throughout the year, you never have to wait long for the next meeting and here is some useful information if you are weighing up a trip.

Useful Info

Dress Code

Glamorous attire is encouraged on the dedicated ladies racedays but by and large Ayr is very relaxed when it comes to what you should or shouldn’t wear. There is no formal dress code for the Grandstand and elsewhere only ripped denims and trainers are not permitted.

Ticket Prices

The Grandstand or ‘single enclosure’ ticket is the cheapest and sometimes the only available ticket at Ayr. It is usually £15 but you will receive a £1 discount if booking online.

For more popular meetings, other options are available including a Club ticket at £21 or Winter Warmer/Summer Sizzler tickets which give you added extras such as a racecard and meal voucher. Entry for under 18s is always free of charge.


Annual membership at Ayr can be bought for £380 (£660 for couples) excluding the one off joining fee of £200 (£300 for couples). Aside from admission to all the meetings, membership also provides you with a racecard at every meet, 25% off food at the Jockey Club restaurant, priority parking and two owners and trainers lunches to give you the chance to speak to the well-known names in racing.

Getting There

If are looking to travel by car then Ayr is a very manageable drive from both Glasgow (37 miles away) and Edinburgh (83 miles away). There are also several and very regular train services that run to and from Ayr train station, which is just a 12 minute walk from the course. Unlike most courses, you can even get the ferry from Larne in Northern Ireland to nearby Troone which is just a 15 minute drive away.


There is plenty of parking spaces at Ayr, even at the busiest meetings, and it is always free of charge for all racegoers.


The Old Ayr Racecourse
The Old Racecourse at Seafield (David Hamilton / geograph.org.uk)

The first signs of racing at Ayr dates back to 1576 but back then any action that took place was far from an official occasion. The first proper organised race meeting took place nearly 200 years later in 1771 and stretched to two days. It didn’t take long before the highly regarded Ayr Gold Cup was created and it’s a race which has been Ayr’s biggest and most prestigious since its inception in 1804.

Two decades later, the Western Meeting Club was formed and they took responsibility of the action at Ayr, creating a new ‘Western Meeting’ which is now the Gold Cup Festival. While racing began to thrive at Ayr, it couldn’t have done so without the help of landed gentry and Caledonian Hunt members who bred some fine horses and shared important information with trainers.

The Old Course at Seafield

For a long time, Ayr Racecourse was based in the central Seafield area of town but with no room to extend the one mile oval track or to create a large paddock, a new course had to be built in the nearby Craigie area, where is remains today. The old track has not been completely forgotten however and is still used as playing fields and is part of a golf course.


The latest course, which was completed in 1907, was not always a jumping course though; it was only 43 years later when it offered more than flat racing. This helped bring the racegoers to Ayr all year round and it has proved to be a very wise decision especially now as Ayr hosts some of Scotland’s best hurdle and chase events.

Ayr continued to attract decent crowds but by the 1990’s it was clear that it needed some financial investment and while it took a while to arrive, in 2003 a bid was accepted from a total of 41 offers. Since then, up to £20m has been spent renovating the course, adding new facilities, including two fine dining restaurants, and improving existing structures, most notably the paddock area. The improvements have made a big difference and now few would disagree that Ayr is a course well worth visiting.