Horse racing brings £170million to the economy every year
With all tickets sold for Saturday’s Coral Scottish Grand National at Ayr, the bumper crowd will enjoy one of the year’s biggest sporting events.
But the four other Scottish courses – Hamilton Park, Kelso, Perth, and Musselburgh – have all reported increased numbers through their gates this year and experts are hopeful this is the start of an upward trend.
According to analysts, there were almost 310,000 paying spectators at the five courses in 2015 – a seven-year high – and that figure is expected to be exceeded this season.
The Coral Scottish Grand National meeting begins on Friday with Ladies Day before the main event, which is staged the following afternoon. Both will attract thousands of visitors.
Ayr Racecourse staged 35 meetings throughout the year and Saturday’s £215,000 headline race will see up to 30 horses jumping the testing 27-fence, four-mile circuit.
We need big winners to attract the owners, it comes down to that at the end of the day
The industry in Scotland has recently received yet another boost, with the victory of One For Arthur in the Grand National earlier this month.
Sam Twiston-Davies rider of Vincente
The 14-1 shot became only the second Scottish horse to win at Aintree after Rubstic’s triumph in 1979.
Immediately after Arthur’s win, trainer Lucinda Russell, based in Milnathort, Kinross, spoke of Scotland’s horse racing heritage.
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She said: “We have great trainers up in the north, just as good as the ones in the south. But we need big winners to attract the owners because that’s what it comes down to at the end of the day.
AP McCoy on Lettheriverrundry finishes his last Ayr Races meeting
“The trainers are as good, the tracks in the north are good and it’s a better day out for owners up here. But it’s the investment.”
Yesterday, bookmakers Coral had the Nicky Henderson-trained Premier Bond heading the sponsor’s betting for the big race at 9-1.
Last year’s winner, Vicente, is the 10-1 second favourite for champion trainer Paul Nicholls, ahead of his stablemate Arpege D’Alene, Missed Approach, and Southfield Royale, all 12-1.