Musselburgh racecourse has been given a double boost ahead of its major jumps fixture this coming Sunday with news of an extra race and an extra £5000 in prize money.
A new £10,000 novice chase over two miles is to be added to the John Smiths Cheltenham Festival Trials day programme giving punters a top-class eight-race card with £119,000 in prize money.
The new race has been designed specifically to attract leading contenders for the Arkle Chase – the novice championship event at the Cheltenham festival itself next month – and hopes are high that entries for this extra event will include the likes of Overturn.
The gelding boasts top class form both on the flat and over hurdles – he was runner-up in last year’s Champion Hurdle – and has produced scintillating displays of fencing in two starts so far over the larger obstacles.
“We already have a novice chase over two and a half miles on the programme, but there was a demand for a similar race over the minimum distance as the weather has curtailed opportunities recently,” said racecourse boss Bill Farnsworth.
“So we were delighted to help out. Having an extra race is a bonus for our customers and supporters and if we can attract horses of the calibre of Overturn, it will be a great boost for the team here who have worked so hard top build up this fixture in the past four or five years.”
Sunday’s meeting will also see Musselburgh racking up another milestone as it becomes the first course to benefit from a new initiative by the British Horseracing Authority to improve the quality and competitiveness of Sunday racecards.
A total of £515,000 has been earmarked for the scheme with two races each Sunday having an extra £5,000 added as a bonus and the scheme starts this weekend with racing at Musselburgh and Lingfield.
“This new scheme is tremendous news for racing,” said Farnsworth. “I’m not sure yet which of our races will get the extra cash, but it will certainly be welcomed by owners, trainers and jockeys. Sundays are a day when the general public gets a chance to go racing and so we need to put on a good show. Here at Musselburgh we not only have Trials day this weekend for the jumps racing fans, but also stage good flat racing fixtures on Easter Sunday and at the end of September when both are family-themed days, so the extra cash will certainly come in handy.”