Scottish Horse Racing
Scottish horse racing is easily overlooked; however, not because it is in any way insignificant or lacking in quality. It appears that the Scottish horse racing scene is considered a stable part of the British horse racing season, leading to horse racing to be considered an officially British sporting event rather than viewing Scottish national racing as a separate circuit. Regardless of this generalisation of equine sporting events, Scotland is home to well-known and respected racing venues and holds meetings which do not have to hide from the English cousin-events.
A case-point of the value of the Scottish horse racing scene is the origin of the National Hunt Race. Although this type of racing is immensely popular throughout the United Kingdom and is practised fervently in Britain and Ireland, Scotland is the place in which this sport originated. Point-to-point races, which later evolved into Steeple Chases and the National Hunt phenomenon, were a favourite past-time in the rough Scottish landscapes since the 1700s. As the Scottish country side was perfectly suited for these obstacle races the sport flourished and the term 'Steeple Chase' was first recorded in a Scottish racing calendar dated 1807. It was derived from 'church steeples' which provided a widely visible landmark and were often selected as finishing points for the races.
Scotland hosts most of its races on five major racetracks: Ayr Racecourse, Hamilton Park, Kelso Racecourse, Musselburgh Racecourse and Perth Racecourse. In between them, there are over 100 race meetings every year.
Ayr Racecourse is perhaps the best known racecourse in Scotland. It is a mixed track, meaning it hosts both National Hunt and Flat races, and is the home of the Scottish Grand National Steeple Chase and the Ayr Gold Cup.
Hamilton Park, located in South Lanarkshire, is the sole Flat racing-only racecourse in Scotland. In a season running from May to September, it stages the Braveheart Stakes and the Glasgow Stakes. Kelso Racecourse is the self-described 'friendliest racecourse' in the country, as well as the home to the Cheltenham Trials Day meeting and the Premier Kelso Hurdle. Kelso is a National Hunt racing only venue.
Musselburgh Racecourse was previously known as the Edinburgh Racecourse. It is a National Hunt and Flat racing course and offers some of the most renowned and exciting racing in Scotland. It's fixtures include the John Smith's Scottish County Hurdle, the Scottish Sprint Cup and the Musselburgh Gold Cup.
Perth Racecourse specialises in National Hunt racing. It holds a three day festival in April.
Scottish-bred race horses are immensely popular on the international racing circuit as they are more than able to hold their own against thoroughbred horses. Because they are born and bred in the rough climate, it's said, these horses have exceptionally strong lungs and extraordinary stamina. The Scottish horse breeds also have slightly smaller ears than the thoroughbreds, which gives them another racing advantage. In fact, the Scottish horses are so popular that Scotland is now home to over 30 stud farms.