Brilliant sunshine, a sell-out Saturday crowd, top class racing and fantastic entertainment combined to make the 2015 Coral Scottish Grand National Festival at Ayr Racecourse a huge success.
The huge crowd of 16,500 on Saturday witnessed a memorable running of the £210,000 Coral Scottish Grand National with Wayward Prince, a 25/1 shot holding on gamely to win by three quarters of a length from the fast finishing Irish raider Goonyella.
A delighted owner and trainer Hilary Parrott had decided last year to move the horse from trainer Ian Williams to her own small yard and admitted : “The change of scenery did him good. He loved the ground and was always travelling well.”
And winning jockey Robert Dunne commented : “I thought when they came to me before the last I was going to get beaten but he kept sticking out his neck and battled all the way to the line.
“It’s a huge day for me and my biggest ever win. I had to lose nine pounds to make the weight so feel a bit weak at the moment but it was all worthwhile.”
Earlier in the afternoon Cheltenian won the £100,000 QTS Scottish Champion Hurdle for trainer Philip Hobbs and jockey Richard Johnson in what was a high quality race.
After the last flight it looked as if the Nicky Henderson horse Sign Of A Victory would win but a fighting display by Cheltenian saw him hold on by a neck.
Duke Of Navan won the Scotty Brand Handicap Chase under an ultra-confident Brian Harding ride confirming the jockey as the leading rider at the track for the 2014-2015 jumps season with Lucinda Russell top trainer and Paul and Clare Rooney top owners.
Friday’s highlight was the Listed Hillhouse Quarry Handicap Chase and this was won by course specialists Presenting Junior winning at Ayr for the fourth time this season for owners Mr and Mrs Wilson Garnet, trainer Martin Todhunter and jockey Wilson Renwick.
Reflection on a highly successful Festival Ayr Racecourse Managing Director David Brown commented : “The two days saw some excellent racing with some exciting finishes and we were blessed with some fantastic weather.
“The atmosphere was good with everyone enjoying themselves and joining in the occasion. I thank everyone for their support.”
Ayr’s next meeting is the opening of the flat season on Monday April 27 with the first race due off at 1.50 pm.