27 November 2009 – Ayrshire Post
BILLIONAIRE brothers want to buy Ayr Racecourse.
They are believed to have put a £12.5 million bid in for the course, a year after it went up for sale.
Racecourse chiefs admitted this week that they are in talks with Northern Racing, owned by the mega rich Reuben brothers.
And it is understood that they want to add Ayr to the 10 racecourses they own across the UK.
It’s a step in the right direction for current owners Alan Macdonald and Richard Johnstone, who put the course and the associated Western House Hotel up for sale in October 2008.
The initial flurry of interest failed to produce a buyer, despite expressions of interest from five different sources.
David and Simon Reuben are top flight businessmen and used to getting their own way.
They made their billions in metals and real estate businesses.
They agreed a £66 million take over of Northern Racing two and half years ago.
The company accounts for 15.5 per cent of all UK racing fixtures and owns racecourses across the country, including Newcastle, Sedgefield, Uttoxeter, Great Yarmouth, Hereford, Bath and Chepstow.
They also have a 25 per cent stake in Arena Leisure, which owns the world’s oldest classic race, the St Leger.
The Reubens are also renowned philanthropists and run their own charitable foundation, which recently built a school in north London named after their mother.
They also opened a breast cancer unit in a hospital in Israel and helped Great Ormond Street Hospital build one of the world’s largest cancer clinics for children.
Ayr MSP John Scott insists that the interest from the Reubens is good news.
He said: “If a deal is reached then it would remove the element of uncertainty that has existed since the course was first put up for sale.
“Ayr has a well deserved reputation as Scotland’s premier racecourse and everyone locally wants to see it continue to flourish. It is great that it is attracting such a high profile interest from potential buyers.”
And a spokesman for Ayr Racecourse said: “We can confirm there has been interest from Northern Racing in acquiring Ayr Racecourse.
“This is similar to a number of approaches we have had over the past year from various parties.
“At this point discussions with Northern Racing are at a very early stage.”