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IT was great to be racing again at Perth the other night even if the nine-race card was behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking to chief executive Hazel Peplinski on Racing TV, she was saying how the track had never looked in better condition and how grateful she was to everyone for supporting the meeting with such a large number of runners as decent-sized fields help towards media rights payments.

Perth has been affected badly by the Covid-19 enforced restrictions and there should have been nine fixtures staged prior to what was the Scone venue’s belated opening salvo of 2020.

It was a lovely touch for newly-crowned champion jump jockey Brian Hughes to be given a guard of honour into the paddock, after all thirteen of his total haul – the third highest he achieved on any UK course – came at Perth!  

The next meetings at Britain’s most northerly outpost are scheduled for Tuesday August 11th and Sunday 30th which  is Perth Gold Cup day.

More immediately there is action in Scotland this week at Ayr on Tuesday afternoon and Musselburgh on Thursday evening.

Ayr have just announced that the QTS Group, one of the UK’s leading rail contractors, is the new sponsor of Scotland’s most famous and prestigious Flat race the Ayr Gold Cup.

The QTS Ayr Gold Cup will be run on Saturday September19 the third and final day of the Ayr Gold Cup Festival and will be screened live on the main ITV channel.

QTS was founded by MD Alan McLeish in 1990 and provides a vast range of engineering infrastructure and specialist services to major organisations across the rail, utilities, construction and public services.

The company has a long association with Ayr dating back to 2012 and from 2013 – 2018 sponsored Scotland’s richest hurdle race the Scottish Champion Hurdle and also Ayr Ladies Night, one of the most glamorous occasions in Scottish racing.

Ayr managing director David Brown said: “I am thrilled to welcome QTS as the new sponsor of the Ayr Gold Cup, one of the truly great sprint races in the racing calendar.

“Over the years we have had a strong relationship with the QTS Group and it’s fitting that they are now supporting what is Scotland’s most famous Flat race. In these trying times sponsors are more important to our sport than ever and everyone at Ayr Racecourse is delighted to have Alan McLeish and the QTS team on board for the latest chapter in the proud history of the Ayr Gold Cup.”

Alan McLeish, QTS Group MD, said: “To be able to take on the sponsorship of the QTS Ayr Gold Cup is something we are very excited about. As a UK business, the opportunity to have our brand visible across the nation on ITV1 was something we couldn’t turn down.

“The QTS Ayr Gold Cup will truly be the pinnacle of our relationship with the racecourse and we look forward to working with them closely in the run up to the event.”

The Ayr Gold Cup was first run in 1804 and is one of the most famous sprint handicaps in Europe with up to 25 horses competing over six furlongs on Ayr’s famous home straight.

Winners over the years include some equine legends including Brando in 2016, Don’t Touch in 2015 and further back in history Lochsong, Roman Warrior and Be Friendly.


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