Musselburgh gets its richest ever race

THE richest race ever run at Musselburgh will be held on Derby day this June, after racecourse officials announced last night they have signed a lucrative deal with Totepool to sponsor the Edinburgh Cup and offer prize-money of at least £80,000.

The contest over a mile-and-a-half, the same distance as the Derby which will be run at Epsom on the same afternoon, will be Scotland's second richest flat race, after the Ayr Gold Cup, and, with race-day prize money in excess of 200,000, several top stables are expected to send runners north.

The handicap on Saturday, 5 June, will form part of Musselburgh's most valuable race day and will be supported by the 50,000 totescoop6 Scottish Sprint Cup.

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Other attractions include the 30,000 Edinburgh Castle Stakes, a conditions race for two year olds, which will be seen as a prep race for horses heading to Royal Ascot. The 20,000 Tradesman's Derby and the 15,000 Tartan Trophy will act as consolation races for the two main events, bringing the total prize pot to more than 200,000. Musselburgh plan to build the Edinburgh Cup into a 100,000 race in successive years and Channel 4 has already expressed strong interest, with the feature race and two others included on its programming schedule. The fixture has been incorporated into Ladies' Day in recent seasons, but that highly popular social occasion has been moved to a separate slot on Friday, 18 June this year, with the focus of the 5 June fixture now leaning far more heavily on racing rather than fashion.

Musselburgh's general manager, Bill Farnsworth, explained: "Ladies' Day has been an outstanding success, beyond all our expectations, but the downside is that because it's a sell-out we have 2-3000 regular racegoers who can't attend our biggest and best race day.

"This year Ladies Day has been moved to Friday, June 18 during Royal Ascot week, with a stronger focus on fashion and social racing, and the launch of the Edinburgh Cup Race Day on Derby Day is a strategic move to appeal to the discerning racegoer.

"With that in mind, we decided to introduce a high-value meeting which would appeal to racing fans and would attract top-quality horses. We can't compete with the Derby but we can bring an exciting alternative to Scotland and we are confident Edinburgh Cup day will grow in to one of the country's top racing fixtures.

"Channel 4 has Derby Day at Musselburgh firmly in its sights and our immediate aim is to develop the Edinburgh Cup into a 100,000, early closing race, which will be a prospect the UK and Ireland's leading stables hopefully can't resist."

Farnsworth said an added attraction of introducing a 'cup' event, in the vein of the Doncaster Cup or Goodwood Cup, was that they have a tradition of attracting stayers which develop in to household favourites such as Double Trigger, which won both cups three times.

Farnsworth added: "The aim is to make it an early closing race and the Tote will open a book in advance which will generate a fair bit of pre-race betting interest."

Jason Brautigam of Totepool, said: "We anticipate a great deal of betting interest in a race of this type and quality, as well as being a fantastic centrepiece for race goers on the day."