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The Duke and Duchess of Rothesay attend the Dumfries House Race Day in Ayrshire

21st September 2012

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall watch horse racing during The William Hill Supporting Dumfries House Race Day (Ladies Day) at Ayr Racecourse in Ayrshire

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall watch horse racing during The William Hill Supporting Dumfries House Race Day (Ladies Day) at Ayr Racecourse in Ayrshire

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall had a day at the races today - and backed a charitable cause in the process.

Known as The Duke and Duchess of Rothesay in Scotland, Their Royal Highnesses were guests of honour for Ladies Day at Ayr Racecourse, Ayrshire, which is holding Scotland's biggest flat racing meeting.

The fixture, part of the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup Festival, was raising funds for Dumfries House, a stately home and estate near Cumnock, which The Duke helped to save for the nation five years ago.

First Minister Alex Salmond, himself a keen race-goer, was among the welcoming party which greeted the couple at the course this afternoon.

The Duke and Duchess began their visit by unveiling a plaque to mark the formal renaming of The Paddock Stand to become The Rothesay Stand.

With strains of jazz audible in the background, both royal guests were presented with posies of roses, heather and thistles by local girls Beth Smith and Annalise Aitken.

Around 4,500 guests turned out for the day's racing which took place in glorious sunshine.

A number of female guests were clearly dressed up for Ladies Day, with many hats, high heels and colourful dresses on show.

Their Royal Highnesses watched four of the seven races from the comfort of the newly named stand.

Before leaving, The Duke and Duchess presented trophies for the feature race of the afternoon, the William Hill Supporting Dumfries House Ayrshire Handicap Stakes.

The honours went to Kevin Kirkup, owner of winning horse Osteopathic Remedy, and jockey Connor Nichol who secured his first victory.

Reflecting on the day, Mr Salmond said: "This is a huge crowd for Ladies' Day at Ayr and the fact that it's a royal meeting in Scotland adds that lustre.

"Dumfries House is a fantastic cause that the Prince has championed. I was there last night and it's providing great opportunities for young people in employment.

"It's a magnificent house for visitors, events, weddings and functions. It's one of the great showcases of Scotland and the fact that it's here in Ayrshire, I think, is a matter of great local pride.

"It's really becoming a major economic force in Ayrshire, therefore it's a great cause to be supported."

Built between 1754 and 1759, Dumfries House is set in 2,000 acres of land and is acknowledged as one of the most architecturally significant stately homes in the UK. It was last inhabited in 1993.

In his capacity as Great Steward of Scotland, The Duke headed a consortium of charities and heritage bodies which bought the house and its land in 2007. The purchase stopped the house, contents and estate from being broken up.

It was opened to the public for the first time in 250 years in summer 2008.

Their Royal Highnesses also visited Dumfries House while in Ayrshire. All of races were individually sponsored by companies. All the money from their sponsorship is going to the charity set up to run the various regeneration projects linked to the stately home.

Racecourse chairman Alan Macdonald said: "It was a great honour to have Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Rothesay attend Ayr Racecourse. It was a great occasion and both The Duke and Duchess took a great interest in the racing and spoke to all of our sponsors.

"The entire day was to raise funds for Dumfries House. We are proud to have been part of that."