What is the Ayr Gold Cup?

What is the Ayr Gold Cup? Although obviously not as famous as, say, the Cheltenham Gold Cup or the Gold Cup at Ascot, the Ayr Gold Cup is, nonetheless, the most famous Flat race run in Scotland and forms the centrepiece of the three-day Ayr Gold Cup Festival staged annually in mid-September. Run over a straight six furlongs, open to horses aged three years and upwards and worth £75,000 in total prize money, the Ayr Gold Cup was first run, in its current guise, in 1908. Nowadays, the race is what is known as a ‘Heritage Handicap’ and, as such, is always a hotly-contested, competitive betting heat.

The Ayr Gold Cup has a safety limit of 25, but testament to its popularity is the fact that a consolation race, the Ayr Silver Cup was introduced in 1992 and a consolation race for the consolation race, the Ayr Bronze Cup, was introduced in 2009. Officially, the Ayr Gold Cup is open to horses rated 0-105 but, in 2020, the lowest-rated horses in the field were Arecibo, Staxton and Bungee Jump, all of whom were rated 94; the attraction of the Ayr Silver Cup, worth £30,000 in 2020, and the Ayr Bronze Cup, worth £19,000, is easy enough to understand.

Which was the first British-trained horse to win the Melbourne Cup?

Which was the first British-trained horse to win the Melbourne Cup? Billed as ‘the race that stops a nation’, the Melbourne Cup is a handicap run over 3,200 metres, or approximately two miles, at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne, Victoria on the first Tuesday in November each year. Worth A$8 million, or £4.3 million, in prize money, it is, unquestionably, the most famous horse race run in Australia.

The first horse trained in the Northern Hemisphere to win the Melbourne Cup was Vintage Crop, trained by Dermot Weld at The Curragh, Co. Kildare, in 1993. Vintage Crop tried, and failed, to win the race again in 1994 and 1995, but Weld did so in 2002, courtesy of Media Puzzle.

However, the first horse trained in mainland Britain to win the Melbourne Cup was Cross Counter, a 3-year-old owned by Godolphin and sent out from its Moulton Paddocks yard by trainer Charlie Appleby in 2018. Patiently ridden by Australian jockey Kerrin McEvoy, who was winning his third Melbourne Cup, Cross Counter produced a strong run in the final furlong and a half to win, readily, by a length.

In so doing, he led home a 1-2-3 for British-trained horses, with Marmello, trained by Hughie Morrison, in second place and A Prince Of Arran, trained by Charlie Fellowes, in third, a further 2 lengths away. In an eventful race, Hugh Bowman, jockey of Marmelo, received a lengthy ban for various infringements, while five other jockeys, including McEvoy, were fined for excessive use of the whip.

 

When was the first Royal procession at Ascot?

When was the first Royal procession at Ascot? Located in the Royal County of Berkshire, approximately six miles from Windsor Castle, Ascot Racecourse has been closely associated with the British Royal Family for centuries. Indeed, it was the last Stuart monarch, Queen Anne, who founded Ascot Racecourse, in an area originally known as ‘East Cote’, in 1711. The first recognisable ‘Royal Ascot’ meeting was staged in 1768, during the reign of King George III. ‘Farmer George’ was still on the throne when the Royal Enclosure was created as a premier vantage point for viewing the inaugural running of the Gold Cup in 1807.

However, it was his eldest son, King George IV, who introduced the Royal Procession in 1825. King George IV and his guests apparently made for a ‘very splendid’ spectacle as they made their way up the Straight Mile in beautiful horse-drawn carriages. The traditional has continued ever since; under normal circumstances, Queen Elizabeth II and her cortege arrive at the Royal Gates at 2pm sharp every afternoon and process, accompanied by fanfare, along the Straight Mile to the Parade Ring.

What is the Prestbury Cup?

What is the Prestbury Cup? Fierce rivalry between British and Irish trainers has been a feature of the Cheltenham Festival since the days of Cottage Rake who, in 1948, became the first Irish-trained horse to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup and defended his title in 1949 and 1950. The duel between Arkle, trained in Ireland, and Mill House, trained in England, in the 1964 Cheltenham Gold Cup fuelled further Irish interest in the Cheltenham Festival. Notwithstanding Covid-19 restrictions, the Irish ‘invasion’ of Prestbury Park in March each year has been a fact of life ever since.

In any event, the battle for supremacy at the Cheltenham Festival was made ‘official’ in 2014, with the creation of the Prestbury Cup, which is presented to whichever country saddles most winners over the four days. In 2014 and 2015, the Cheltenham Festival consisted of 27 races, rather than the current 28, and British trainers won the Prestbury Cup on both occasions, by scores of 15-12 and 14-13, respectively. However, since 2016, the boot has been firmly on the other foot, with Irish trainers winning, or retaining, the Prestbury Cup on every occasion. Indeed, in 2021, Irish dominance was exemplified by a record 23-5 scoreline, with all four ‘championship’ races and twelve of the fourteen Grade 1 races going the way of Irish trainers.

 

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