BHA looks to reschedule Ayr Gold Cup as track counts cost

Fri 22 Sep 2017

By staff

Ayr was left counting the cost after the racecourse lost their biggest Flat meeting of the year for the first time in living memory.

The estimated loss to the local economy could run into seven figures after all three days of the traditional Western meeting, featuring the William Hill Gold Cup, were abandoned due to an unsafe patch of ground caused by heavy rain.

Attempts are being made to reschedule the race, most probably at another venue. The BHA and relevant racecourses have said they will provide an update in due course.

"Obviously it's our biggest Flat meeting of the year and second biggest of the year in Scotland. It's hard to put a figure on it but it's a considerable amount of money, probably into seven figures I would say," said Iain Ferguson, head of PR at Ayr.

"It's not just the racecourse itself, it's the local community. It's traditionally the second biggest weekend of the year in the area and the last hurrah of the summer.

"After this weekend there's nothing really for the local businesses, like hoteliers and taxi drivers, until Christmas. People plan their holidays around this and it's a local holiday as well too, so it's a massive blow.

"The track was raceable on Wednesday and we had 17 millimetres overnight on Wednesday into Thursday and that was when the problem came on the ground two and a half furlongs out."

That amount took the total rainfall to unprecedented levels for the area. "We've had 180 millimetres, or seven inches of rain, in the last five weeks," said Ferguson.

"The water table is particularly high. It's as high as most locals can remember it and I think it may be something as simple as reaching it's tipping point.

"It's an ongoing thing. We had no option but to abandon today and tomorrow and we're looking at it. Everything was done to make it raceable but it's not."

Ayr managing director David Brown said everyone at the track was "devastated" at losing the three-day Festival.

He said: "Everyone on the Ayr Racecourse team is devastated to lose Scotland's biggest Flat meeting. Unfortunately, after the unprecedented levels of rain that fell at the track, we had no option but to abandon.

"This not only has an effect on everyone at the track but throughout the racing industry and also to the area where this Festival is one of the busiest weekends of the year."

Richard Wayman, Chief Operating Officer for the BHA, said: “It is obviously extremely disappointing to lose the entire William Hill Ayr Gold Cup fixture. It is an important fixture for horsemen, racegoers, the betting public, the racecourse and the local area.

“The BHA has been working with Ayr to consider alternative options for staging a replacement meeting in the coming days. However, the agreed position between the racecourse and the BHA’s course inspectors is that the condition of the turf and the prevailing weather conditions make it extremely unlikely that the course would be in a position to stage a replacement race meeting in a short timescale.

“We are doing the best we can to try to save the Gold Cup itself, which is such an valuable race for horsemen and important betting event. We will provide an update on this as soon as we are able to.

“Separately, the BHA has requested a report from the racecourse executive regarding the circumstances surrounding the last few days, including exactly what the issue with the track is, what has caused it, what procedures are in place to address the issues, their prospects of racing at other forthcoming fixtures and the communication around the fixture cancellations.”

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