A new section of hybrid turf and fibresand track installed at Musselburgh’s jump track has won the approval of racing officials and jockeys.
The 14x170 metre strip located on the winning post bend has been installed at a cost of £100,000 to improve safety for horses and jockeys.
The composite track came through with flying colours at Musselburgh’s first National Hunt meeting of the season last week.
Chris Dennis, the British Horseracing Authority’s Inspector of Courses, praised Musselburgh. He said: “This is a welcome addition to improving the safety of both jockeys and horses and the first of its kind at UK racecourse. The initial feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and Musselburgh are to be congratulated in leading the way on this important issue.”
Grand National winning jockey Jason Maguire also gave the hybrid track the thumbs-up after racing on it for the first time. “This bend is quite tight and narrow and the turf tends to get quite cut up during the winter. The fibresand surface provided a really good grip, it’s an excellent way to address this problem and improves the riding conditions.”
Former champion jockey, Peter Scudamore, who is now assistant trainer at Lucinda Russell’s Arlary House stables, said: “The new fibresand bend is a great innovation and Musselburgh’s forward-thinking is an example to every racecourse in the country.”
Other racecourses have expressed an interest in how Musselburgh have adapted the track to improve conditions and plan to visit the East Lothian course to see it in action.
Bill Farnsworth, general manager at Musselburgh Racecourse, said: “Historically, we have a problem on this bend with excess wear and tear which causes the ground to become loose and a potential hazard.
“We are delighted with the results so far and have received a huge amount of encouragement from across the racing industry. If it prevents one fall to a horse and jockey with any potential injury that brings, then the investment will be well worth it.
“It is a significant expenditure for a course our size but we are committed to improving the safety and welfare of all who compete at Musselburgh and this reflects our policy of reinvesting profits to bring improvements across the board.”