Musselburgh Racecourse is a dual-purpose horse racing venue on Scotland’s east coast, near the River Esk. It is one of five tracks in Scotland along with Ayr, Hamilton, Kelso and Perth.
There has been racing at Musselburgh Racecourse since 1816 and, given that it hosts both Flat and National Hunt fixtures, the track these days races year-round.
- Address – Musselburgh Racecourse, Linkfield Road, Musselburgh, East Lothian, EH21 7RG.
- Owner – East Lothian Council (run by Chester Race Company).
- TV Station – Racing TV.
- Type – Flat and National Hunt.
- Surface – Turf.
Musselburgh is a popular track with National Hunt and Flat trainers alike. It remains well supported over both codes, especially by trainers based in Scotland, the northernmost parts of England and Middleham in Yorkshire.
Musselburgh’s Flat track is right-handed and is thought of as sharp in nature. The two turns linking the back straight with the home straight are particularly tight and come up quickly, so horses with balance are favoured much like at Chester.
Despite the two long straights, big galloping types aren’t necessarily favoured on the round track, with speedier types usually doing well as long as they can also see out their trip.
A low draw may help on the round course, especially up to 9 furlongs, while on the straight course fields tend to group on the stands rail meaning high draws are better.
Given the fantastic drainage at Musselburgh, conditions rarely become too testing here which is another reason speedier types can continue to gain an advantage.
Flat Track Analysis
For the more experienced jockeys, Musselburgh is in fact easier than it used to be as it used to contain the tightest turn in Britain, though the track has been slightly reconfigured now.
Jockeys back up the fact that a nippy, steady horse is required as balance will be needed, and if you do follow speed figures then those who show a turn of foot should be favoured as they can often get away from the pack at Musselburgh when putting the pedal down.
Once more, riders confirm the fact that despite it being slightly uphill, the five-furlong straight course is quick and that the near side is favoured.
The National Hunt track is a right-handed course just over 1¼ miles in length. It remains pretty flat throughout and features those familiar sharp turns, with handy and well-balanced horses favoured over long-striding gallopers.
Eight fences feature on each circuit of the chase track, four in each straight, with three hurdles on each straight also featuring.
Jumps Track Analysis
Jumps riders have also fed back that racing handy is best at Musselburgh, and again that a sure-footed horse always makes them feel more confident around those bends. That is especially the case when the ground is quick, which it often is owing to the drainage.
You can count on just a little more stamina and look for a horse ridden patiently when the ground comes up soft, but even when that is the description if the rain has stopped, it will dry out quickly during the day, all the time changing what is required of horse and jockey.
Visiting Musselburgh Racecourse
Musselburgh Racecourse sits on what is known as ‘common good’ land. The track is east of the town and very close to the A1, meaning it’s easy to get to and from if you’re in Edinburgh or up in Fife.
How to Get to Musselburgh Racecourse
From the Glasgow area, simply head east on the M8 towards Edinburgh, then onto the City Bypass. At the roundabout which links onto the A1, head straight over towards Musselburgh and follow the signs to the track.
From the south including Newcastle and Berwick, head north up the A1. Take the exit for Musselburgh and the City Bypass and then follow signs to the track.
Naturally, there are arrivals from all over the country into Edinburgh’s Waverley Station. The station, and the centre of Edinburgh, is only 6½ miles from the track using the A1 and A199.
Edinburgh Airport is 17 miles from the track using the A8, off which the airport sits, and the City Bypass as before.
Where to Stay
Given its proximity to Edinburgh, this is where the huge bulk of visitors to Musselburgh Racecourse choose to stay.
The track is also close to outlying areas on the coast such as Portobello and Leith, while it is also straight down the coast from the beautiful East Neuk of Fife, though that’s a drive that takes a lot longer that it looks via the map!
Musselburgh Racecourse Fixtures
|Monday||18th Dec 2023||Afternoon||Jump / Turf|
Musselburgh’s Biggest Races
Musselburgh, along with Ayr, is extremely important for Scottish racing over both codes. These are Musselburgh’s most important Flat races each year:
|Royal Mile Handicap||3yo Only, Handicap, Class 2||1m||April|
|Scottish Sprint Cup||4yo+, Handicap, Class 2||5f||April|
|Queen’s Cup||4yo+, Heritage Handicap, Class 2||1m6f||April|
|Edinburgh Castle Stakes||2yo Only, Conditions Stakes, Class 2||5f||June|
|Edinburgh Cup||3yo Only, Handicap, Class 3||1m4½f||June|
|Maggie Dickson Stakes||3yo+, Fillies & Mares, Listed Race||7f||June|
|Newcomers’ Maiden Stakes||2yo Unraced Only, Class 2||5f||July|
|British EBF Conditions Stakes||2yo Only, Conditions Stakes, Class 2||5f||August|
|Portobello Cup||4yo+, Handicap, Class 3||1m6f||August|
|Prestonpans Handicap||4yo+, Handicap, Class 2||5f||August|
|Ladies Day Gold Cup||3yo+, Handicap, Class 3||7f||August|
|Scottish Premier Fillies’ Handicap||3yo+ Fillies & Mares, Handicap, Class 3||1m||September|
|Bass Rock Handicap||3yo+, Handicap, Class 2||7f||October|
Musselburgh’s most important National Hunt races each calendar year are:
|Auld Reekie Handicap Chase||5yo+, Handicap Chase, Class 2||2m4½f||January|
|Scottish County Hurdle||4yo+, Handicap Hurdle, Class 2||1m7½f||February|
|Scottish Champion Chase||5yo+, Handicap Chase, Class 3||2m||February*|
|Edinburgh National||5yo+, Handicap Chase, Class 2||4m1f||February|
|Scottish Triumph Hurdle||4yo Only, Hurdle, Listed Race||1m7½f||February|
|Scottish Stayers’ Novices’ Hurdle||4yo+, Novices’ Hurdle, Class 2||3m||February|
|Pertemps Hurdle Qualifier||5yo+, Handicap Hurdle, Class 2||3m2f||February|
|Northern Lights Juvenile Hurdle Series Final||4yo Only, Hurdle, Class 2||2m½f||March|
|Northern Lights Two Mile Hurdle Series Final||4yo+, Handicap Hurdle, Class 2||2m½f||March|
|Northern Lights Stayers’ Hurdle Series Final||4yo+, Handicap Hurdle, Class 2||3m||March|
|Northern Lights Mares’ Hurdle Series Final||4yo+, Handicap Hurdle, Class 2||2m4f||March|
*For the Bowes-Lyon Trophy
About Musselburgh Racecourse
The first known organised races in Musselburgh took place back in 1777. From 1789 to 1816, most meetings were held at Leigh on the beaches. In 1816, races returned to Musselburgh permanently with a course having been laid out by the town council.
Musselburgh suffered after the legalisation of betting shops in 1961. This led to attendances at racecourse going into decline, something that hit Scottish courses harder than most. Both Lanark and Bogside closed down, with Musselburgh in danger of going the same way during the 1980’s.
There was temporary help made available in 1987 when racecourse began being able to sell pictures to betting shops for coverage, though the track was still in the red going into the 90’s.
In 1991, East Lothian Council had to take over day-to-day running of the racecourse from the pervious ownership, the Lothians Syndicate Limited. Breakeven was achieved within a year and the course began to improve its fortunes.
In 1994, the council and the Syndicate created the Musselburgh Joint Racing Committee to run the track. The council owns the facilities and any assets, with back then the Syndicate paying commercial rent in order to use the land and run the track as a business.
Refurbishments began in 1995 including new The Queen’s Stand as well as a brush-ups to the Edwardian Grandstand and other parts of the course, while in 2012 an all-weather strip was laid to prevent those heavily used bends churning up.
More trouble hit the track however, especially when it came to licencing. In June 2020 Chester Race Company, which runs Chester and Bangor Racecourses, confirmed that they were successful during a tender application process and had been selected by East Lothian Council to run the course for an initial ten-year period.