There will be a distinct difference to Musselburgh’s National Hunt track when it re-opens for business today with a new strip of fibresand replacing a worn section of turf.
Ground around the winning post bend had become badly worn and the East Lothian venue invested heavily by installing a hybrid strip to improve safety.
Due to excess wear and tear, the ground had become loose, but the new strip has already had the thumbs up from Brian Hughes, Brian Harding and Lucy Alexander, who tested it out.
“It’s a sizeable investment for a course of our size, but we are always looking for ways to improve the quality of the racing surface at Musselburgh,” said general manager Bill Farnsworth.
“The winning post bend is tight and quite narrow and as the jump season progresses the turf gets badly damaged, to the extent that by February there is not a lot of grass left, especially in a wet year.
“This hybrid of turf and artificial surface is an innovative way of dealing with that problem and greatly improves conditions which reduce the risk of injury to both horse and rider.”
As for the action, in-form Rose Dobbin is on the trail of more winners at Musselburgh today and her Northumberland raiding party is spearheaded by Purcell’s Bridge in the Racing UK Handicap Hurdle.
She said: “He’s very well after his win in a conditional hurdle at Wetherby, but I just hope the race doesn’t come too quick as that was only six days ago. Our hands are tied as he is due to go up 17lbs – which we think is a shade harsh – so we’ve had to run him sooner than we would have liked.”
The yard’s first runner is One Million in the Glow-Worm Renewable Technology Juvenile Hurdle. Dobbin added: “We tried a tongue tie on him at Wetherby last time and he ran a bit better. He might turn out to be OK in time and he ought to go well again.”
Mountskip hasn’t raced since finishing sixth at the East Lothian track two years ago and he makes his comeback from injury in division two of the JRF Chimney Specialist Handicap Hurdle.
“He has been off with tendon trouble, but he’s ready to go and our stable conditional Shaun, who is my husband Tony’s nephew, can claim a handy 10lb. Hopefully he’ll run well,” said Dobbin.