Scottish Grand National History

The first ever Scottish Grand National was run in 1867 at Bogside, a racecourse near the town of Irvine and located about 15 miles from Ayr. Bogside was a 3-mile, 7-furlong triangular course, with a short run-in and a sharp upward gradient near to the line. It hosted its first point-to-point race meeting as early as 1808. Visit our early Scottish Grand National winners for details of horses who won the race at Bogside.

After the 1965 Scottish Grand National, the Bogside course was closed and the Scottish Grand National found a new home at Ayr Racecourse. Ayr Racecourse had been hosting the Ayr Gold Cup since 1804, and introduced a jump-racing course in 1950.

Scottish Racing History

In any discussion about the history of National Hunt jump racing, the limelight tends to fall on Ireland and the UK. However, records show that point-to-point racing – the cross-country racing that is the predecessor of steeplechases and of modern-day National Hunt racing – was already popular in Scotland as early as the 1700s.

Steeplechasing developed from rough cross-country races known as “pounding races”, in which riders chose their own routes and the winner was simply the one who out-lasted – or “out-pounded”– other riders. To endure this kind of cross-country race, horses had to be able to handle uneven ground and jumps.

Somewhere towards the end of the 1700s, it became common for racers to agree on the end-point for a cross-country race – more often than not, a church steeple. The word “steeplechase” appeared officially for the first time in 1807, in the Scottish Racing Calendar.

A distinguishing feature of early steeplechases is that riders were free to choose their own routes to get to the finishing posts. The first actual steeplechase courses were laid out and started to become popular only in the mid 1800s.

In the 1860s, the Grand National Hunt Committee in England and the Scottish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee started to regulate the sport of steeplechasing. In 1889, the Grand National Hunt Committee became the National Hunt Committee – the name by which it’s still known today.

The Coral Scottish Grand National marks over 140 years of Scottish Grand National history.