MUSSELBURGH Racecourse has introduced two weekend racing festivals as it opts for quality over quantity, the newly-released 2011 fixtures list reveals.
The East Lothian course will race 24 times, down three meetings from last year, but general manager, Bill Farnsworth, said he was pleased the new fixtures gave the opportunity to raise the standard of racing at Musselburgh.
“We have reduced the number of mid-week afternoon meetings which served the bookmaking industry but were no longer producing a fair return for racing at Musselburgh. Instead we have gone for fixtures of a higher quality which should bring more racing fans through the gates,” said Mr Farnsworth.
While four flat meetings have been shed, Musselburgh gains a Saturday flat fixture on September 3 with £100,000 in prize money, including the £50,000 Scottish Sprint Cup which moves from its traditional June date.
For the first time the Easter Sunday weekend will become a two day fixture and includes the Musselburgh Gold Cup meeting (April 23-24) while the highly popular Ladies Day meeting on Friday June 17 will be looking to secure a fourth sell out in succession.
Seasoned race goers will be delighted that the Edinburgh Cup, introduced this year and which attracted some of the best trainers and horses in the UK, will be preceded with a Friday race day (June 3-4) and have a prize fund of £200,000.
The two standout fixtures in the National Hunt season are the well-established Cheltenham Festival Trials Day, taking place on Sunday February 6 and the New Year’s Day meeting which will include two quality races which will be broadcast by Channel 4.
“Doubling up at weekends allows us to attract the better English and Irish stables who will be more willing to send horses the longer distance as it increasing their opportunity to race while minimising costs.
“In this case less really is more and without doubt the new fixture list means we will be bringing to Musselburgh the highest quality fields in recent history. We are all delighted with the way it has turned out and hopefully our enthusiasm will be mirrored in attendance figures.”
The 2011-12 Seasonal Highlights:
Saturday Jan 1: New Year’s Day Race Meeting
Sunday Feb 6: John Smith’s Scottish Cheltenham Trials
Sat-Sunday April 23-24: Musselburgh Gold Cup; Easter Sunday Family Day
Friday May 20: Radio Forth’s Boogie Boogie Night
Friday-Sat June 3-4: Edinburgh Cup weekend
Friday June 17: Musselburgh Ladies Day
Friday July 29: Racing family evening
Saturday Sept 3: Scottish Sprint Cup
Sunday Sept 25: Royal Scots Family Day
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