Musselburgh can’t restage Cheltenham Trials Day – but are handed extra fixture in February

Musselburgh have been allotted an extra fixture later this month – but their quest to revive the prestigious Cheltenham Festival Trials day for a second time has not been sanctioned.

Musselburgh chief Bill Farnsworth understands why Cheltenham Trials Day has fallen by the wayside. Pic: TSPL
Musselburgh chief Bill Farnsworth understands why Cheltenham Trials Day has fallen by the wayside. Pic: TSPL

The East Lothian track twice lost their biggest NH meeting this year – firstly to the weather and then because of the equine flu outbreak – and had hoped to run it on Friday of next week.

With 23 fixtures lost during the enforced six day break because of equine flu, the BHA have announced six extra fixtures and have given Musselburgh an additional day on Thursday, February 28. The track already have a meeting scheduled for the previous afternoon and racecourse boss Bill Farnsworth welcomed the new date.

“The Trials Day just wasn’t going to work next week as it would have been expensive and difficult from a logistics point of view and we were simply running out of time,” he said.

“Putting on such a big day is never easy and we were very fortunate to have had great support from our sponsors so that we managed to reschedule a card with record breaking prize money of £160,000 for last Sunday before the flu problem hit racing so hard.

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“We would also have had a lot of competition next week from other bigger tracks for the top class horses limbering up for Cheltenham, so we just have to accept that we have lost it for this year and move on.

“The BHA are rightly concentrating on extra meetings for lower grade horses who form the biggest part of the horse population and getting a second day for our late February fixture is a nice little consolation.

“It will be a low-grade affair, but it means we can create a nice two day fixture when entry will be free on both days.”