VIRGIN BET AYR GOLD CUP FESTIVAL TOP RACES

The Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup Festival is quite simply the best Flat racing Scotland has to offer with three enthralling sprint handicaps including the The Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup, the country’s only Group race The Virgin Bet Firth Of Clyde Stakes and a clutch of Listed Races.

Over the three days there is racing of the highest calibre with some big prize money on offer.

 

 

 

 

The Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup (Heritage Handicap)

The Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup is the most famous and richest Flat race run in Scotland and a tremendous spectacle to watch with up to 25 runners fanned across the track and speeding down the six furlong home straight at Ayr.

Kevin Ryan won the race for the fifth time in 2021 with Bielsa coming home two and a quarter lengths clear in the hands of Kevin Stott. The previous Ryan winners were Advanced (2007), Our Jonathan (2011), Captain Ramius (2012) and Brando (2016).

Bielsa came down the stand side rail in splendid isolation and won by two and a quarter lengths from Great Ambassador. It was a brilliant performance and the jockey deserves great credit for such a positive ride.

In 2020 Newmarket trainer William Haggas won the race for the first time with a very talented sprinter in Nahaarr again given a fine ride by Tom Marquand.

The Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup! This is a race that is a fabulous spectacle and we look forward to another fantastic renewal in 2022.

 

What a picture – Bielsa and Kevin Stott win the Virgin Bet  Ayr Gold Cup

What a picture – Bielsa and Kevin Stott win the Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup

The Virgin Bet Firth Of Clyde Stakes (Class 1) (Group 3)

This is Scotland’s only Group race and is run over the straight six furlongs for two year-old fillies and regularly attracts quality horses  from some of the leading yards in the land.

The well-bred Nazanin won the latest running in 2021 for trainer Archie Watson and jockey Hollie Doyle in what was one of the best finishes of the Flat season at Ayr. It was only in the shadow of the post that the brave filly got her head in front of the Willie Haggas runner Canonized.

The list of previous winners include Umm Kulthum (2020), Rose Of Kildare (2019), Shaden (2015), Coral Mist  (2013) and Majestic Dubawi (2010).

 

 

 

 

Her saddle cloth says no 1 and that’s where Nazanin finished in the Group 3 Virgin Bet Firth Of Clyde Stakes

Her saddle cloth says no 1 and that’s where Nazanin finished in the Group 3 Virgin Bet Firth Of Clyde Stakes

The Virgin Bet Doonside Cup (Class 1) (Listed Race)

This famous race is one of the finest middle distance Listed races in the north and Maydanny carried the Shadwell Stud colours to victory last year for Mark Johnston and jockey Joe Fanning.

In what was a highly competitive heat the gelding showed great resolution to get the better of Euchen Glen and win by a length and a half.

In 2020 the race attracted the highest rated horse ever to run at Ayr, the Willie Haggas trained Addeybb who won cosily under a cool Tom Marquand ride  from Lord Glitters.  

Godolphin have won this great race five times, the latest success coming with Secret Number in 2016.

 

 

Maydanny and Joe Fanning winning the Virgin Bet Doonside Cup

Maydanny and Joe Fanning winning the Virgin Bet Doonside Cup

The EBF British Stallions Harry Rosebery Stakes (Class 1) (Listed Race)

A long standing Ayr highlight the EBF British Stallions Harry Rosebery Stakes is a five furlong dash for two year olds and is run on Ladies Day, the middle day of the Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup Festival.

The 2021 running was won by the highly impressive filly Vertiginous who posted a new juvenile course record of 56.89 seconds in beating Mibaahy by two lengths. Trained by Brian Meehan and the mount of Paul Mulrennan this was a mighty performance and one that had the jockey singing the praises of his filly after the race.

Back in 2015 the winner was Quiet Reflection who went on to Group 1 glory and was sold for £2,100,000 guineas.

 

 

 

Jockey Paul Mulrennan steers Vertiginous (second right) to victory in the British EBF Stallions Harry Rosebery Stakes, Listed Race

Jockey Paul Mulrennan steers Vertiginous (second right) to victory in the British EBF Stallions Harry Rosebery Stakes, Listed Race

The Arran Scottish Fillies Sprint Stakes (Class 1) (Listed Race)

First introduced in 2018, this Listed five and a half furlong sprint has quickly established itself as one of the highlights of the Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup Festival and like the EBF British Stallions Harry Rosebery Stakes is run on Ladies Day.

In 2021 Karl Burke trained Dandalla to triumph by one and three quarter lengths from Bimble with jockey Ben Curtis riding a fine race.

In 2020 Paul Hanagan rode his 100th Ayr winner on the Cheveley Park Stud owned Exceptional to win for trainer Richard Fahey. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dandalla (no 8) eases down winning the Arran Scottish Sprint EBF Fillies’ Stakes Listed Race

Dandalla (no 8) eases down winning the Arran Scottish Sprint EBF Fillies’ Stakes Listed Race

The Virgin Bet Ayr Silver Cup (Class 2)

One of the most successful trainers in recent years at the Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup Festival has been Tim Easterby who regularly sends up a strong team of horses to compete in many races over the three days.

He struck silver last year when the highly consistent sprinter Staxton won the Virgin Bet Ayr Silver Cup by a head from Keith Dalgleish’s Soldier’s Minute getting up in the shadow of the post to prevail.

That win kept the Cup in North Yorkshire after Magical Spirit’s win the previous year for Kevin Ryan and jockey Kevin Stott.

 

 

 

 

 

Staxton takes victory at the last minute

Staxton takes victory at the last minute

The Virgin Bet Ayr Bronze Cup (Class 2)

The Virgin Bet Ayr Bronze Cup is the first of the three big sprint handicaps of the Festival to be run taking place as it does on Friday.

The field is made up of horses who have failed to make the cut for the Virgin Bet Ayr Gold and Silver Cups and over the years this has produced some worthy winners.

The 2021 renewal saw a tremendous finish with Paul Mulrennan bringing Call Me Ginger late to win with Be Proud second giving Jim Goldie a 1-2.

 

 

Call me Ginger ridden by Paul Mulrennan

Call me Ginger ridden by Paul Mulrennan

The Virgin Bet Handicap (for the Kilkerran Cup) (Class 2)

The feature race on the opening day of the Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup Festival is run for one of the oldest trophies at Ayr Racecourse and last year’s contest saw one of the easiest winners in the race’s history.

Keith Dalgleish’s Chichester led two furlongs out in this 1m 2f contest and forged clear to win by six and a half lengths . It was a magnificent run and Callum Rodriguez even eased his mount in the last 100 yards.

Previous winners of the KIilkerran Cup include Fire Fighting (2014), Snaono (2016) and First Impression (2020).

 

 

Keith Dalgleish trained Chichester for the win.

Keith Dalgleish trained Chichester for the win.