New trophies commissioned at Perth
A selection of Perth Racecourse’s flagship races will be renamed and rebranded in honour of the town’s celebrated cultural roots to celebrate the Year of Heritage, History and Archaeology and promote its bid for 2021 UK City of Culture.
Scottish artist Gordon Muir has been commissioned to design two special-edition trophies for Perth’s most prestigious races, paying homage to the legendary Stone of Destiny and the Roman-era Saddle Quern, discovered in the fabled Gold Castle adjoining the course.
As part of the racecourse’s aim to involve the wider Perthshire community in their burgeoning programme – as well as help promote the city’s heritage - the new-look trophies will be ready in time for the Perth Festival, which starts on Wednesday, 26 April.
The polished-bronze saddle quern – which was used for grinding flax and barley in the Roman fort discovered nearby - will be up for grabs to the winner of The £20,000 EBF Stallions Gold Castle National Hunt Novice Hurdle Race, and the original quern will be on display at the Perth Museum throughout festival week.
In August’s summer meeting (Saturday 19), The Summer Champion Hurdle will be renamed The £25,000 Stone of Destiny Handicap Hurdle Race. Used for centuries in the coronation of Scottish monarchs, the Stone of Destiny – also known as the Stone of Scone - was stolen from nearby Scone Abbey, by King Edward I of England in 1296, and used in the crowning ceremony of virtually every monarch since. Although there is speculation over whether this stone was in fact a replica, secretly swapped by monks with the real Stone of Destiny shortly before Edward’s raid on the Perthshire abbey.
The trophy will feature an exact miniature by Muir, taken from the same seam of red-sandstone as the original and donated by Lord and Lady Mansfield from Scone Palace.
The rebrand is designed to more closely reflect the track’s rich and celebrated cultural roots as well as highlight their upgraded status and increased prize money on offer. Set in the stunning parklands of Scone Palace, the racecourse has worked closely with the Mansfield family to identify the most effective means of bringing its rich heritage to the fore.
Hazel Peplinski, Perth Racecourse Chief Executive, believes the new trophies will become among the most coveted in the country, continuing the racecourse’s quest to associate local history and culture with the increasingly popular sporting event. She said: “Researching the Stone of Destiny in particular has been a pleasure: it is fantasy and folklore at its best and everyone you speak to has their own version of the truth; that is the fun of it all.
“It is impossible not to become fixated in the rich tapestry of heritage and culture that surrounds us here in Perth. Who would believe that within half-a-mile of the racecourse enclosures there was a Roman fort on the banks of the Tay in which a real quern-stone was discovered and is safely preserved in our city’s museum?
“I am grateful to Scone Estate for unearthing some marvellous potential race names, many of which shall be integrated in to the race programme throughout the summer months, and hope that it encourages the wider Perthshire community to embrace the racecourse as another local treasure.”
Lady Mansfield of Scone Palace said: “We were delighted to be asked to contribute to Perth Racecourse’s race re-branding, and to see the Stone of Scone and Saddle Quern celebrated in Gordon Muir’s work.
“The trophies and the new race names are appropriate salutes to the Year of Heritage, History and Archaeology, and to Perth’s bid for UK City of Culture. They really are fine tributes that will go the distance.”
Marking the start of the 2017 season, the Perth Festival is a three-day extravaganza which showcases some of the finest horse racing on offer. Set against the spectacular landscape of the UK’s most northerly track, racegoers will be treated to three days of thrilling horse racing, excellent hospitality and live entertainment.
Taking place from 26 April (Wednesday) to 28 April (Friday), three day Perth Festival tickets are priced at £50. Grandstand tickets are available for each day at £20.