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Musselburgh Racecourse’s historic Good Friday race meeting got off to a flying start with a 3000-plus crowd in glorious Spring weather.

The two day Easter Festival of Racing, which included the annual Easter Sunday Family Day, pulled in a combined attendance of 7869, up by more than 600 on the previous year when the course raced on Easter Saturday and Sunday.

The East Lothian venue became the first UK racecourse to hold a turf meeting on Good Friday, while all-weather track Lingfield also raced.

Musselburgh Racecourse general manager, Bill Farnsworth, said he was pleased with the attendance, which provided a solid foundation for establishing the Good Friday date as a main feature on the racing calendar.

He said: “As it is a new date we were starting from scratch and wanted to see what kind of crowd we would attract. It can take a few years to build up a crowd for new fixtures but we have shown it can be done successfully with our New Year’s Day and Easter Sunday meetings which are now well established and very popular.

“We would have been happy with a 3000 attendance but had 3200 through the gates and that was well within our budget. The atmosphere on the day was superb and a £158,000 prize fund with a £50,000 feature race is not to be sniffed at and it attracted good quality entries.

“The feedback we have received so far has been very positive and we are confident that Good Friday at Musselburgh will become a popular destination for regular race goers and the general public looking for an alternative day out on this public holiday.”

Mr Farnsworth said in time he hoped it would be possible to establish a three day racing festival over the holiday weekend.

Monies raised from the sale of race cards on Good Friday was donated to the Injured Jockey’s Fund which assists jockeys who have suffered through injury and are unable to ride. A total of £1750 was handed over to the IJF, adding to £7641 raised for a variety of charities are early meetings and £17,000 generated at the Saints & Sinners meeting in November on behalf of Victim Support Scotland.

Musselburgh’s Easter Sunday family day continues to grow in popularity, attracting a 4700 crowd which included 1091 children who enjoyed a wide range of free activities, attractions and chocolate Easter gifts.

Musselburgh is back racing on Monday 12 May, the second of seven fixtures during a busy spell in May and June which includes the Edinburgh Cup and sold-out Stobo Castle Ladies Day meetings.

For more information on all Musselburgh Racecourse fixtures see here.