Musselburgh Racecourse launches its National Hunt season on Wednesday 2nd November and Thursday 3rd November with double-header meetings featuring prize money of more than £100,000 in what is shaping up be a cracking jumps programme.
With a longer season running over 11 meetings from November to the end of March, the East Lothian course has maintained prize money of just under £750,000 and introduced a new £40,000 staying race over four miles.
The extension of the well-established Scottish Cheltenham Trials into a weekend festival (4th–5th February 2017) is a natural evolution which will play well with jumps racing fans, believes racecourse chief executive Bill Farnsworth.
He said: “We’ve steadily built up our Scottish Cheltenham Trials day in to what is now recognised across the sport as a genuine prep meeting for the Cheltenham Festival and it seemed the next step was to provide two days of quality jumps racing over a weekend.
“With just shy of £250,000 in prize money over the two days, we will have 10 races which are ideal preps for either Cheltenham or the Grand National, and we know from experience that racing fans love coming to Musselburgh for a glimpse of potential festival runners.”
The Scottish County Handicap Hurdle feature race will see prize money doubled to £50,000 while Musselburgh continues to add to the programme with a new stayer’s race titled The Edinburgh National.
Farnsworth added: “This will be the first four-mile race ever staged at Musselburgh and it is a 0-150 handicap worth £40,000 which we believe will be a great prep race for the Grand National or Scottish Grand National.”
Musselburgh, along with Cheltenham, will welcome back ITV to horseracing for the first time in 27 years, when the television channel broadcasts live from the traditional New Year’s Day meetings.
The 1st January fixture grows in popularity each year and crowds at the East Lothian track are up by 20 per cent over the last three years.
“There is a real buzz about the New Year’s Day meeting and people now see the event as a firm fixture in the Hogmanay-New Year’s Day celebrations. We are very excited at developing this meeting over the next few years and with prize money topping £130,000 we expect strong fields and are hoping for an increased attendance.”