Relief as Musselburgh racing gets reprieve from BHA

Next Friday's race meeting at Musselburgh finally got the go-ahead after the committee that oversees the track was granted a temporary licence by the British Horseracing Authority.

Musselburgh racecourse manager Bill Farnsworth.
Musselburgh racecourse manager Bill Farnsworth.

The fixture had been under threat unless the Musselburgh Joint Racing Committee agreed to an independent review of its governance by Thursday evening.

That seemed unlikely at one stage as the MJRC chairman, councillor Willie Innes, of East Lothian Council, had not convened a meeting of its members to discuss the matter until next Tuesday.

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However, he found that the MJRC members, four representatives from the council and three from the Lothian Racing Syndicate, had no objection to a review.

The BHA extended the deadline to noon today and have now issued a licence until the end of the year.

The BHA said in a statement: “The British Horseracing Authority has today confirmed that Musselburgh Racecourse has been issued with a temporary licence until 31 December, 2017.

“This follows agreement from the Musselburgh Joint Racing Committee and East Lothian Council that an independent governance review should take place, with a nine-month timeline for completion and implementation of recommendations.

“The BHA is satisfied that its licence condition has now been met. Musselburgh’s forthcoming fixtures on 14 and 25 July can go ahead.”

The news racing can continue has been welcomed by interested parties, who want to ensure the racecourse can put the uncertainty behind it.

Musselburgh racecourse chief executive Bill Farnsworth, pictured, said: “We are relieved the BHA has been able to issue a licence which will allow our next meeting on Friday, 14 July to proceed.

“We are aware recent events have caused much uncertainty in the racing industry and we would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused. We would urge racing fans, owners and trainers to support Musselburgh at this meeting as we seek to find a long-term solution to this unfortunate situation.

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“We hope the proposed independent governance review will create a modern blueprint which puts the interests of the racecourse first and prevents any similar situation from arising.”

John Prideaux, one of three Lothian Racing Syndicate members on the MJRC, said: “We are relieved that a last-minute solution has been found to meet the licensing requirements of the BHA and that racing will go ahead at Musselburgh on 14 July.

“We must now focus on rebuilding confidence in what is one of Scotland’s best sporting assets.

“We are committed to working with other MJRC members to ensure the best possible outcome for hard working racecourse staff and the racegoers, trainers and owners who have supported Musselburgh over the years.”

Councillor Innes said he was pleased with the news and confirmed his commitment to the racecourse.