Musselburgh Racecourse History

Early records show that some form of racing was staged in Edinburgh as early as 1504, most notably on Leith sands. Almost three centuries later the Royal Caledonian Hunt Club, who had organised meetings at Hamilton and Kelso, sponsored a meeting at Edinburgh. Just two years afterwards an extended five day meeting in July attracted a crowd in excess of 100,000. The final meeting on Leith sands was held in 1815, and a year later the first six day meeting took place on the current racecourse on Monday 7th October 1816. The card opened with His Majesty’s 100 Guineas Plate, which was won by the Marquis of Queensberry’s Epperstone. A second His Majesty’s Plate was held on Thursday when King David prevailed for Lord Queensberry. Racing ceased during each of the two World Wars, with Alec McHarg taking charge after the War in 1946, but in 1963 the threat of closure loomed when the Levy Board considered axing it as part of its programme of reforms. Fortunately the Earl of Rosebery fronted a campaign group and the course was saved. The course introduced jump racing on Thursday 5th January 1967, but by 1974, after the Earl of Rosebery had died, the course was denied Levy Board backing again and it was left to the Lothians Racing Syndicate to provide the necessary financial support to refurbish the grandstand and save the course. Currently the course hosts 27 fixtures annually.

Musselburgh 1935.JPG (24028 bytes)

The Leeds Intelligencer reported on the two day meeting from Monday 21st to Tuesday 22nd July 1777.
Monday 21st July 1777
Edinburgh 50 Sovereigns Purse

1. Bambouzle owned by Sir Thomas Wallace Dunlop 1 1
2. Who-would-have-thought-it owned by Mr Miller 4 2
3. Woodcock owned by Mr Blackie 2 dist.
4. Squirrel owned by Mr Hudson 3 dist
5. Little Skirmish owned by Mr Turner dist.
6. Miss Slipley owned by Mr Hunter Fell

Musselburgh 1915.JPG (23956 bytes)

Tuesday 22nd July 1777
His Majesty’s 100 Guineas Purse

1. Hercules owned by the Duke of Hamilton
2. Hazard owned by Mr Shaftoe
3. Airderburrow owned by Mr Kerr

Lothians 1925p.JPG (22049 bytes)
Lothian 1937.JPG (17445 bytes)
Although Musselburgh remains a thriving racecourse, nearby Selkirk closed its gates for the final time in 1881.
The Scottish Borders town of Selkirk first held racing as early as 1715 when a silver plate, valued at £10, was contested and became an annual event. However, it is thought that racing took place well before that date, probably as early as 1656. A silver Town Plate was contested on the last Tuesday of April each year, with the Burgh Plate run on the following day. By 1824 a new course at the Gala Rig had been established, when its inaugural two day meeting took place on Friday 25th and Saturday 26th June 1824. Racing continued on a regular basis for a further 57 years, the principal race at this time was the Tradesman's Stakes over 1 ½ miles which was won in 1870 by Yarrow, owned by G. Dryden. The final meeting took place on Friday 17th June 1881.
I am grateful to Ordnance Survey (© Crown Copyright) for permission to use the map shown below.
Edinburgh 1959kt.JPG (40163 bytes)
1964 Ladies 1965 Gents 1967 Ladies 1969 Gents 1969 Ladies

The rare racecard shown below is from the May 1845 meeting held in Edinburgh.

Thursday 22nd May 1845
Mid-Lothian Handicap Sweepstake over 2 miles

1. Pythia, chestnut filly owned by Mr W H Johnstone
2. Pilot, bay colt owned by Mr Robertson
3. Lara, chestnut gelding owned by Captain Boyd

Edinburgh 2 mile Match
1. Waverley, bay gelding owned by Mr Wauchope
2. Unnamed bay mare owned by Sir F W Dunbar

City of Edinburgh Subscription Plate over 1 ½ miles
1. Amata, chestnut filly owned by Mr Wauchope
2. Dog Billy, chestnut colt owned by Captain Boyd
3. Brevity, black mare owned by Mr Merry

Lothian 1986.JPG (11227 bytes)
1989 Gents 1990 Gents 1991 Gents 1992 Matched Pair 1993 Gents
1994 Gents 1995 Gents 1996 Gents 1997 Gents 1998 Gents
1999 Gents 1999 Member 2000 Member 2001 Member 2002 Member
2003 Member 2004 Member 2005 Member 2006 Member 2007 Member
2008 Member 2009 Member 2009 Bookmaker 2010 Member 2010 Bookmaker
2011 Member 2012 Member 2013 Member 2014 Member 2015 Member
2016 Member 2017 Member      

ISBN 978-0-9957632-0-3

652 pages

774 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-1-0

352 pages

400 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-2-7

180 pages

140 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-3-4

264 pages

235 former courses

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