A month on from The Queen’s celebratory visit to mark Musselburgh’s bicentenary year – which included the unveiling of a Corten steel sculpture reflecting the racecourse logo – it was revealed on Tuesday that a £100,000 staying race will be named after the monarch and feature on a new Easter Saturday fixture.
The dual-purpose track has survived some dark days during the 1980s and 90s, as attendances dwindled and was even on the verge of closing down.
But following the creation of the Musselburgh Joint Racing Committee – a partnership between East Lothian Council and the Lothians Racing Syndicate – the course was able to take a step back in the right direction and since then has gone from strength-to-strength, with £6 million worth of investment having been poured in already.
In a mix-up of fixtures, Musselburgh has swapped its traditional Easter Sunday fixture with Ffos Las racecourse to allow it to extend the long running Scottish Cheltenham Trials event in February in to a weekend festival.
The Good Friday fixture, which was called off earlier this year due to unsafe ground has been scrapped as Arena Racing Company step in with fixtures at Newcastle and Bath.
Chief Executive of Musselburgh Racecourse, Bill Farnsworth said: “We are delighted to have obtained the personal approval of The Queen to name a race in her honour following her recent visit to the course to mark our Bi-Centenary year.
“We hope to establish The Queen’s Cup as the Flat season’s first top quality staying handicap, and while it was disappointing to lose our Good Friday meeting, we are excited about the prospect of building a first class Easter Saturday fixture.”
Now one of Britain’s heavily invested racecourses, the card on Easter Sunday will be worth a staggering £200,000 with the Queen’s Cup, worth half the days prize money taking centre stage.
The brand new heritage handicap for four year olds and over, will become the first of the seasons top staying handicaps. It will precede the Chester Cup, the Northumberland Plate, and the Ebor and Cesarewitch handicaps towards the latter half of the season.
Horses like these need stepping stones and it will be a great early season target
Trainer Jim Goldie, who sits on the Lothians Racing Syndicate providing the trainers point of view, is excited by this recent addition and thinks it will bed in nicely with the staying programme.
The Renfrewshire handler has already got a few yardstick’s in mind for the contest even at this early stage.
He said: “Musselburgh is one of the most go ahead racecourses there probably is in Britain and it would be great if I could win it.
“One of ours that’s done well this year is Sir Chauvelin and he has now managed to go up the handicap and get into the Ebor, but horses like these need stepping stones and it will be a great early season target.”
The Easter Saturday card joins the likes of Edinburgh Cup day worth over £150,000 in June and Scottish Cheltenham Trials weekend in early February which will boast over £250,000 in prize money in 2017 and feature a new four-mile race, the Edinburgh National.