Horse racing in Ayr can be traced back to 1576 but the first properly organised meeting, held over two days, took place in 1771 with the first Ayr Gold Cup run in 1804 .
The Western Meeting Club was formed in 1824 and the same year the Western Meeting race meeting, now the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup Festival, was established.
In these days the racecourse was in the south of the town and moved to its present location in 1907.
The next major landmark was the introduction of national hunt racing at the track in 1950 and in 1966 the Scottish Grand National moved to Ayr after Bogside Racecourse closed.
In 2003 the racecourse was sold by the Western Meeting Club to two local businessmen Alan Macdonald and Richard Johnson.
Ayr is Scotland's only Grade 1 track and hosts both Flat and National Hunt racing with 37 meetings scheduled for 2018.
Ayr has for the third year in a row been voted in the top six large racecourses in the country for owners and awarded the Racehorse Owners Association Gold Standard status for 2017.
In addition Ayr holds the highest accolade in Scottish tourism – VisitScotland’s 5 Star Visitor Attraction status.
The course is home to both the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup Festival and the Coral Scottish Grand National Festival Scotland’s biggest and richest race meetings.
In addition to the Coral Scottish Grand National and William Hill Ayr Gold Cup Ayr also stages Scotland’s only group race – the Group 3 William Hill Firth Of Clyde Stakes.
Other major Flat races include the following Listed races The William Hill Doonside Cup, The Shadwell Stud Harry Rosebery Stakes which in 2015 was won by Quiet Reflection, The Scottish Sun/British Stallion Studs EBF Fillies Land O’Burns Stakes won in 2016 by Marsha, The Tennent’s British Stallion Studs EBF Rothesay Stakes won by Nezwaah last year and The Al Maktoum Cup Arran Scottish Fillies Sprint Stakes.
The top races over jumps include the Grade 2 QTS Scottish Champion Hurdle, the Grade 2 Jordan Electrics Ltd Future Champion Chase, two Listed races – the Hillhouse Quarry Handicap Chase and the Scotty Brand Handicap Chase and a new £100,000 Class 2 Open Novices’ Handicap Chase.
Other business facets and events
The Princess Royal Exhibition, Banqueting and Conference Centre at Ayr Racecourse is the biggest conference and exhibition centre outside a major city in Scotland.
With seating for up to 1000 delegates at a theatre style conference and many break out rooms the venue hosts many major conferences, events and balls.
The centre of the course also stages non racing events including the Ayrshire County Show.