Prize money and crowds race to Musselburgh

Musselburgh will offer over �1 million in prize money this summer
Musselburgh will offer over �1 million in prize money this summer
Have your say

Musselburgh Racecourse will again have more than 
£1 million in prize money for their summer season, which kicks off with a double-header over the Easter weekend.

And even before the campaign begins, the East Lothian track reports that Ladies Day – their biggest meeting of the year – is already virtually sold out.

The fixture on Saturday, June 13 will include special events for the ladies, while the action on the track is headed by the biggest race of the year – the £100,000 William Hill Scottish Sprint Cup.

“Incredibly the last of the general admission tickets have already been snapped up,” said racecourse boss Bill Farnsworth, “although there are a handful of inclusive packages still available. It promises to be a great day and we are delighted at the way the Sprint Cup continues to thrive. This year the consolation race for those horses who miss the cut for the main event will be worth £30,000 and it is by far our biggest day of the year.”

Flat racing swings into action on the East Lothian track on Good Friday following last year’s inaugural meeting on that date and Farnsworth has put together a card which features two £50,000 events – the Royal Mile Handicap and the Balmoral Handicap.

The latter is a new race over one mile, six furlongs and the afternoon also features the £25,000 Borderlescott Sprint Trophy, while the £25,000 Musselburgh Gold Cup is the main race on Easter Sunday when a whole host of family activities are planned.

“We will have our biggest ever fun fair and all the children’s entertainment will be free,” said Farnsworth.

There are a total of 16 days on the flat with the first evening fixture planned for Friday, May 22 – the popular Forth Radio Boogie Night, while there are also evening meetings on Monday, June 29 and Friday, July 31.

Musselburgh race on Saturday, June 6 when racegoers can watch the Epsom Derby on the track’s giant screen, while the main event at home is the Edinburgh Gold Cup – a £60,000 handicap for three-year-olds and over the Derby trip of a-mile-and-a half.

There are two fixtures scheduled for late July, but there will be no harness racing this summer because of track improvement work which is scheduled to begin in mid-season and which will extend into the autumn. “We are doing extensive work on re-cambering the bend past the winning post, so we will switch our flat meetings in the second half of the summer onto the jumps track, but sadly it means we can’t host the harness racing this year,” explained Farnsworth.

August brings a two-day fixture on Wednesday, August 26 and the following afternoon, while the £30,000 Archerfield Cup will be staged on Friday, August 7, and Farnsworth plans the track’s first ever beer festival for the fixture on Saturday, September 12.

“Heineken breweries have supported us for many years through sponsorship from their John Smith’s brand, but they have taken over Caledonian Breweries and they will become our new ‘beer’ partner this summer,” said Farnsworth.

“Caley Brewery specialise in real ales and produce lots of craft ales, so we felt a beer festival would fit in nicely and the main event is a new £30,000 handicap for three-year-old stayers which we hope will dovetail with the Doncaster St Leger – the final Classic of the year and which will be screened live here during the afternoon.”

With £1.15m in prize money, there will be plenty of quality action for local racing fans this summer, and Farnsworth is planning a very big thank you for the final fixture on Sunday, September 27.

“We are calling it Services Day and there will be free tickets for members of the armed forces and their families, along with those from the fire brigade, ambulance service etc, who want to come along and have a great day out.

“We topped the £1m in prize money on the flat for the first time last year and we have managed to increase it this time around when we will average almost £70,000 per fixture, so all we need is some proper summer weather.”