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.