High hopes of Homage landing big prize at Ayr

Picture: TSPLPicture: TSPL
Picture: TSPL
The Racing UK Handicap at Ayr boasts the biggest prize pot on offer at any British racecourse today with £25,000 up for grabs.

Off at 4:40pm and run over a mile, the field of 12 runners is headed by top weight Homage.

Graham Lee is aboard, representing the Willie Haggas yard and Homage has form, having been second in a decent race at Nottingham recently.

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Others with chances in this hot contest are Ingleby Angel, trained by David O’Meara trained and ridden by Danny Tudhope, and Tim Easterby’s Silvery Moon, with Fergal Lynch on board.

As well as top action on the track, the Ayr meeting is the traditional Glasgow Fair Family Day and entertainment for children includes appearances by cartoon character Peppa Pig, plus a bouncy castle, face painting, quad bikes, a mini zoo and fairground rides.

Meanwhile, Musselburgh Racecourse posted a record turnover in its last financial year to 31 March, with annual revenues improving by 4 per cent from £5.29 million to £5.49m, marking a third successive increase. The East ­Lothian track also pulled in more visitors over the 27 Flat and jump racing fixtures, with 68,300 racegoers creating a modern-day annual attendance record.

Over the past five years, the not-for-profit course has reinvested £1.45m in improvements to the track and visitor facilities with £350,000 invested in the past 12 months.

Musselburgh Racecourse general manager Bill Farnsworth said despite challenging economic conditions which hit the sport and leisure sectors particularly hard, the racecourse was punching above its weight.

Farnsworth said: “Musselburgh has to compete against much larger and well-financed racecourses to grab our share of the racing and leisure pound but these figures demonstrate the racecourse is in very good shape.

“Record turnover and attendances and a programme of ongoing reinvestment in the fabric of the racecourse are all down to the hard work of a small band of very committed people working at Musselburgh. Our commercial team, ground staff and the hundreds of casual race day staff put their all into making Musselburgh Racecourse one of the leading racetracks in the UK.

“Racing is a competitive industry and with other racecourses investing in both their infrastructure and prize money we must continue to focus on the future, ensuring Musselburgh is high on the must-visit list for seasoned racegoers and casual visitors alike.”

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An important component in Musselburgh’s financial performance has been the racecourse’s relationship with the Racing Media Group and its TurfTV subsidiary. Total income from these sources has more than doubled in the last five years, totalling £2.27m in 2014-15 compared to just £1.08m in 2009-10.

Farnsworth said: “Providing competitive racing and good field sizes is crucial to sustaining this and other income streams, hence the emphasis on increasing prize money to attract owners and trainers who have many choices of where to race.”

A key strategy has been to build on the success of the June feature fixtures, the Totepool Edinburgh Cup and Stobo Castle Ladies Day. In 2014 these premium race days generated attendances of 6,131 and 9,434 respectively, but last month crowds rose by 9 per cent to 6,708 and 10,288 respectively.

More than £350,000 has been spent in the past year, including upgrading the Bistro restaurant and raising the viewing area in front of the main grandstand. Projects under way in 2015-16 include cambering the bend after the winning post on the Flat course to improve the quality and safety of racing. The £140,000 project has been supported by the Tote Racing Foundation and the Horserace Betting Levy Board.

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