Musselburgh all set for its richest racing day

Head groundsman Mark Bemrose polishes the Scottish Sprint Cup as preparations continue for Musselburghs richest-ever meeting this Saturday. The �100,000 sprint will be the main race on Ladies Day card. Pic: Jon Savage

Head groundsman Mark Bemrose polishes the Scottish Sprint Cup as preparations continue for Musselburghs richest-ever meeting this Saturday. The �100,000 sprint will be the main race on Ladies Day card. Pic: Jon Savage

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Musselburgh Racecourse is poised to stage the richest day in its 200-year history on Saturday.

With almost £200,000 in prize money and a 10,000 sell-out crowd for their annual Ladies Day bash, racecourse boss Bill Farnsworth can’t wait to get the action started.

“We have been sold out for weeks and are delighted with the entries,” he said. “We have deliberately reduced the crowd limit to 10,000 and changed the lay-out of the facilities with bigger and better marquees and more space allotted all round.

“It should mean a better experience for our customers and we shall be watering all week to make sure that the ground is perfect for the racing too”.

The highlight on the track is the £100,000 William Hill Scottish Sprint Cup, while the William Hill Scottish Tartan Trophy is a £40,00 consolation event for those who do not make the cut for the big 5f dash.

The big sprint has grown from a £20,000 event in 2000 to one of the richest sprints in the Racing Calendar – something that gives Farnsworth and his team great satisfaction.

On Saturday it will be the main race on the Channel 4 programme, despite the fact that top Grade One tracks York and Sandown are also in action. That alone gives Farnsworth and his crew every reason to stick out the chest and sing the merits of racing on the seaside circuit.

“It has been almost like a dream,” says Farnsworth. “Way back in Millenium year we started with a sponsorship from Scottish-based Ductform Ventilation and they really helped us on the way. Now it is the biggest race of the day on the weekend before Royal Ascot. That is very pleasing indeed and our race fits snugly into the calendar because there is no five furlong handicap race at the Royal meeting.”

Last year’s winner, Red Baron, is likely to be back for more. He has four victories to his credit at Musselburgh and his blistering early speed is a potent weapon on this sharp track.

Dandy Nicholls has several entries, including Kimberella who was beaten in a photo finish to the Dash at Epsom last weekend where he was just ahead of Duke of Firenze.

Nicholls could also saddle Blaine, who won over six furlongs at Epsom on derby day, while Sunday’s Goodwood scorer Confessional is also set to reappear here.

The £20,000 Stobo Castle Gold Cup and the William Hill Ladies Cup – a valuable mile event for fillies and mares – give added depth to an excellent card.

As well as some top-class equine action, the ladies get a chance to win a car in the Best Dressed Lady competition. It’s a sporty little Suzuki with a pink roof and pink wing mirrors – just for colour co-ordination you see!

And the celebrations will continue after racing, with Vernon Kay hosting music and dancing in a large marquee for those who have backed a few winners or those who simply don’t want the fun to end.