Deal to buy Ayr racecourse falls through
Herald Scotland - 2010-03-18
THE owners of Ayr racecourse, Alan Macdonald and Richard Johnstone, are prepared to go it alone with the course’s revamp after talks to sell the course to Northern Racing appear to have broken down, writes Ian Paul.
The company owned by the Reuben Brothers already owns 10 courses throughout England and looked likely to meet the price, believed to be around £12m, required to add their first Scottish course to the folio. However, after lengthy negotiations, while the Ayr management has not officially walked away from the talks, it appears that the deal has fallen through after the parties could not agree on plans for the building of houses at the far end of the track.
It now seems certain that the owners will carry on with their original strategy, which involved ambitious eventual investment in the region of £32m. In fact, the beginning of this phase is likely to begin within the next 18 months. Macdonald and Johnstone have spent £14m on developing the course after buying it for £9m six years ago. They had to abandon further development when the recession hit hard and decided to put the track and the Western House Hotel in its grounds up for sale 20 months ago.
Various parties showed interest and some talks took place, but nothing concrete came about, although the recent interest from the Reubens Brothers did look like bearing fruit.
However, the breakdown of the talks means that Northern Racing, which owns Bath, Brighton, Chepstow, Flos Las, Fontwell, Yarmouth, Hereford, Newcastle, Sedgefield, and Uttoxeter, will not take over Scotland’s premier track.
Meanwhile, Irish star Cousin Vinny proved an odds-on flop when he could finish only third in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Beginners Chase behind An Cathaoir Mor at Fairyhouse yesterday. Winner of the 2008 Champion Bumper, Cousin Vinny did not jump fluently and had no answer when Nicanor loomed upsides on the bridle and took it up four out. The Henry de Bromhead-trained An Cathaoir Mor then joined in a thrilling duel with Nicanor before winning by a short head.
Nicanor’s trainer, Noel Meade, confirmed that Go Native and Pandorama, two of his main hopes for Cheltenham, will go straight to the Festival, as the freeze-up did not affect his plans. Go Native is chasing victory in the Champion Hurdle which would earn him the £1m WBX Triple Crown bonus after victories in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle and Christmas Hurdle.
Pandorama is a 12-1 chance with Paddy Power for the RSA Chase after two Grade 1 chase wins this season and bypasses the Dr PJ Moriarty Novice Chase at Leopardstown on February 7.
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