THE title sponsors of the Ayr Gold Cup have signed a deal to extend their backing of Scotland's most prestigious flat race.

Virgin Bet's sponsorship of the Ayr Gold Cup is part of an extended deal to maintain naming rights for the three-day Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup Festival, running this year from Thursday, September 15 to Saturday, September 17.

The Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup will again be the highlight of ITV Racing’s live TV broadcasting on Saturday, September 17 after ITV1’s coverage of the 2021 race reached 1.24 million people, with a peak audience of 632,000 for the flagship race itself.

In addition to the feature race, the Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup, the betting operator will sponsor eight other key races during the festival.

As with last year, the first year of Virgin Bet's support for the festival, this includes Saturday’s Ayr Silver Cup, the Doonside Cup Listed Race, and the Firth of Clyde Stakes - Scotland’s only Group One race.

Virgin Bet will also continue their sponsorship of Thursday’s Kilkerran Cup and the Ayr Bronze Cup on Friday.

David Brown, managing director of Ayr Racecourse, said: “I know I speak for the entire team at Ayr in saying we are delighted Virgin Bet have renewed their sponsorship of the Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup Festival.

“Virgin Bet is one of the fastest growing sportsbooks in the UK, and it is an honour for us that they have once again pledged their support to the biggest and richest flat racing festival in Scotland, which is also one of the most anticipated fixtures in the British racing calendar.

“Sponsorship has never been as important to racing as it is now, and to attract a sponsor of this magnitude underlines the importance of this Festival.

“We look forward once again to working with the team at Virgin Bet to deliver a memorable 2022 Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup.”

James McKay, sportsbook director at Virgin Bet, added: “Following the success of last year’s partnership with Ayr Racecourse, we are proud to continue our sponsorship of one of the highlights in Scotland and the UK’s racing calendars.

“Virgin Bet continues to cement itself as a leading runner in horse racing, and following the popularity of last year’s festival amongst our customers, headlined by the Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup, it was only natural for us to extend our partnership with one of the biggest moments in the flat-racing season.

"We can’t wait to once again support British racing on what I’m sure will be a thrilling three days at the Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup Festival in September.”

Last year's instalment of the Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup Festival attracted more than 11,000 fans, with a host of top horses, trainers and jockeys part of the illustrious event.

Bielsa, ridden by Kevin Scott and named after the charismatic Argentinian former manager of Leeds United FC, was first past the post of a top-class field to claim glory, joining an esteemed list of winners since the race’s inception over 215 years ago, in 1804.

Entries for the Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup close at noon on Tuesday, August 9.