Musselburgh Racecourse has made the best possible start to its bicentenary year with the best-ever jumping season on the East Lothian track.
Crowds over the ten meetings this winter have jumped more than 26 per cent while the Hogmanay fixture on New Year’s day attracted a record crowd for a jumps meeting of 5816 – a rise of 31.5 per cent on the previous year.
With an increase in prize money of five per cent to more than £660,000, it was no surprise to see the number of runners at the ten fixtures increase by a healthy 18 per cent.
Lucinda Russell – who is based at Kinross in Fife – was the leading trainer during the winter with nine victories while her stable jockey Derek Fox was top rider with six winners.
“We have enjoyed a tremendous winter and it is all down to a hard working team who invest time, energy and enthusiasm into making this one of the best racecourses in the UK,” said Musselburgh boss Bill Farnsworth.
“It makes me very proud, especially the success of the New Year’s day meeting, and our Cheltenham Trials Day last month probably saw the highest standard of horses we have ever had here with all the major stables competing.
“We have a very good team here and the success we have achieved over the years has enabled us to steadily improve things both on and off the track, so now we are looking forward to the new flat campaign and a successful summer.”
Musselburgh opens the new British turf flat season with a meeting on Good Friday, but will not be racing on Easter Sunday this year.
“It is an issue with funding,” he explains. “We weren’t able to get the backing necessary to be able to race on the Sunday, but we would certainly hope to get that day back in 2017.”
Musselburgh’s long term ambition is to include Easter Saturday so that they can stage a three-day Easter festival with racing both on the level and over jumps.
But meantime Bill Farnsworth and his team have a big summer to look forward too. It is 200 years since racing began at Musselburgh and a special bicentenary meeting will be staged on Friday, July 8.