Musselburgh Racecourse have increased the purse for its feature race on the first day of the bet365 Scottish Cheltenham Trials weekend.
The Class 2 bet365 Edinburgh National, run over four miles, will now carry a £30,000 prize in a nod to owners and trainers as they contend with the pressures of the coronavirus pandemic.
Spread over the weekend of 6-7 February, total prize money on offer at the East Lothian course’s premier National Hunt festival is more than £200,000, at an event widely regarded by trainers as a first class opportunity to prepare potential entries for the Cheltenham and Grand National festivals in March and April.
Musselburgh Racecourse general manager, Bill Farnsworth, said: “We have pushed the Edinburgh National up from £25,000 to £30,000 and total prize money on the Saturday race day will exceed £110,000.
“We can only do this with the support of bet365 and they deserve a lot of credit. We are doing this because live sport is so important at the moment in helping lift the mood for many people during the lockdown.
“We are determined to put on a good show at Musselburgh when we are on ITV and felt it appropriate to put more prize money into the race. We want to make sure it attracts the best staying handicap chasers in the country.
“Despite the challenging times we are facing, it is very important that we put as much into prize money as is viable, because prize money is the lifeblood of the horse racing industry. It funds the whole sport and the money flows down to all the people who keep the wheels of this important industry turning.”
At the same meeting the bet365 Scottish County Hurdle has a first prize of £25,000 and the race is viewed as an important prep race for Cheltenham’s County Hurdle.
The bet365 Edinburgh National Raceday on Saturday 6 February and bet365 Scottish Cheltenham Trial on Sunday 7 February will be run behind-closed-doors, adhering to strict Covid-19 safety protocols.