Musselburgh will stage the inaugural £100,000 Queen’s Cup on Easter Saturday.
Her Majesty gave approval for the race to be named in her honour after she visited the East Lothian track last July to mark Musselburgh’s 200th year of staging horseracing. The Queen’s Cup is part of a £250,000 racecard on 15 April, which also features the £50,000 Royal Mile Handicap.
Musselburgh chief executive Bill Farnsworth, said: “We are delighted to kick off our 2017 Flat season with a high value new race, The Queen’s Cup, which we hope will become established as the first leg of the season’s major staying handicaps, sitting alongside the Chester Cup, the Northumberland Plate and York’s Betfred Ebor.”
Early Bird tickets for the Easter meeting are on sale until 31 March, offering a £10 saving on adult tickets (raceday price £30), with children under 17 admitted free.
Meanwhile, the Coral Scottish Grand National Festival at Ayr will, for the second year running, feature a showdown for the British jumps trainers’ championship. This year Nicky Henderson, currently £150,000 ahead, is challenging champion Paul Nicholls and not Willie Mullins who ran him so close last year.
Nicholls virtually clinched the title in 2016 by winning the Coral Scottish Grand National with Vicente and is targeting the £122,000 first prize this year with Arpege D’Alene – fourth in the JT McNamara National Hunt Challenge Cup at Cheltenham last week. Like Vicente, a seven year-old, Arpege D’Alene is part owned by Sir Alex Ferguson and the Ayr race has long been a target.
The Coral Scottish Grand National is the second richest race behind the Grand National still to be run for this season so will play a pivotal part in the trainers’ race.
Both Nicholls and Henderson are set to have runners in the four Class 1 races at the meeting, on Friday and Saturday 21-22 April 22, including the QTS Scottish Champion Hurdle, which carries a first prize of almost £60,000.