History of Horse Racing at Musselburgh Racecourse

Edinburgh horse racing

The first recorded horse racing at Edinburgh took place under the Royal Caledonian Hunt in 1777.

Racing is recorded on the sands at Leith between 1789 and 1816, although some did take place at Musselburgh during that period. Regular meetings resumed in 1816 and have continued for the next two centuries.

Edinburgh Racecourse became known as Musselburgh in the 1990’s and is situated in the Millhill area of the town, close to the River Esk. Flat racing has always taken place at the course with National Hunt introduced to the venue in 1987.

Bogside (1965) and Lanark (1977) were both forced to close as attendances fell following the legalisation of off course betting shops in 1963. The future of Musselburgh Racecourse was in doubt in the 1980’s but it was taken over by East Lothian Council in 1991 and work began to refurbish the course in 1995. The Queen’s Stand, the Links Pavilion and a new weighing room, parade ring and stables are among the many improvements in recent years.

There are now 27 racedays at Musselburgh racecourse each year with the highlights being the Edinburgh Cup, the Scottish Sprint Cup and the John Smith’s Scottish County Hurdle where the favourites battle it out for some top prize money.

Flat Racing at Musselburgh

The Edinburgh Cup takes place on Derby day with the big race broadcast live from Epsom on the Big Screen. The Cup was first run in 2010 and is already established as Scotland’s second-richest flat race behind the Ayr Gold Cup with over £150,000 in prize money on offer. The inaugural running was won by the high-class Harris Tweed while 2012 winner Scatter Dice would go on to win the Cesarewitch the following year for Mark Johnston at odds of 66-1.

The £100,000 Scottish Sprint Cup is the feature race on Ladies Day and takes place the week after the Derby. The meeting was introduced in 2000 and is fast becoming a highlight of the Scottish social calendar. The 2015 renewal was won in a course record time by the favourite Red Baron, trained by Eric Alston and ridden by Apprentice Neil Farley. Red Baron had finished runner-up in the Consolation race on the same card a year earlier.

Jump Racing at Musselburgh

The New Year’s Day meeting at Musselburgh is the perfect cure to those hangovers with a top quality jump racing card including the televised Hogmaneigh Hurdle and Scottish Premier Chase.

Ruacana won the big hurdle race for John Ferguson in 2015 while the Scottish Premier Chase was won by local trainer Lucinda Russell with Reaping The Reward. The most recent addition to the racing calendar at Musselburgh Racecourse is Cheltenham Trials Day in February.

The meeting was created to attract some of the top National Hunt horses north of the border prior to the big festival in March and has proved a big success. The day’s feature races are the Scottish Triumph Hurdle and the Scottish Country Hurdle.

Lambourn Trainer Nicky Henderson has been a great supporter of the meeting and won the Scottish County Hurdle with Eradicate in 2010, ridden by Barry Geraghty. Grand National winning trainer Venetia Williams also won the race with Brick Red in 2013. The following year the race was won by Clever Cookie, trained by Peter Niven and ridden by Wilson Renwick. Although the gelding did not run at Cheltenham, he has since gone on to win Listed and Group 3 races on the flat.

Henderson has also trained the winner of the Scottish Triumph Hurdle on two occasions with Giorgio Quercus in 2009 and Hargam in 2015. The latter went on to finish third to his stable companion Peace And Co at Cheltenham. Paul Nicholls won the race with Sametegal in 2013 and he also went on to finish third at the National Hunt festival in March.

Musselburgh Fixture List*

Flat meetings 2015 – September 12th, 27th

Jump meetings 2015 – November 5th, 6th, 27th, December 7th

Jump meetings 2016 – January 1st, 4th, 20th, February 7th, 8th, 17th, November 2nd, November

3rd, November 24th, December 14th

Flat meetings 2016 – March 25th, 27th, April 24th, 29th, May 9th, 27th, June 4th, 11th, 27th, July

8th, 19th, 29th, August 5th, 24th, 25th, September 2nd, 10th, 25th, October 11th

*The fixtures may be subject to alteration

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