Trainer Mark Johnston must be in with a decent shout of retaining Musselburgh’s Betway Easter Saturday feature race, The Queen’s Cup, with five entries making the trip from his Middleham Moor yard.
The £75,000 Class 2 heritage handicap (3.35pm) was last run in 2019 when Johnston’s joint favourite Austrian School took the honours, and this time out he fields King’s Advice, Trumpet Man, Notation, Hochfield, and Themaxwecan which carries the red, white and blue colours of Scottish owner Douglas Livingston.
Recent Wolverhampton scorer Nate The Great, fourth in last year’s Queen Alexandra Stakes at Royal Ascot, is trained by Andrew Balding who has also declared Diocletian, while other Scottish interest focuses on the Keith Dalgleish-trained Alright Sunshine, who is unbeaten in two bumpers and two races on the Flat at the track.
In the Betway Royal Mile Handicap (2.25pm) Malton handler Richard Fahey, who won this race in 2017 and 2019, is double-handed with Strike Red and Ventura Mutiny who won his maiden at Musselburgh last June. The likely favourite is the Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum owned Forest Falcon, trained by Mark Johnston who landed the race in 2018.
In the £30,000 Betway Scottish Sprint Cup (3pm), trainer Mick Appleby bids for his fourth strike in this valuable 5f dash with Caspian Prince, the winner in 2018. Hollie Doyle, the winning jockey aboard Saaheq two years ago, rides Came From The Dark for Lambourn trainer Ed Walker and Hollie, who has been booked for fives, has partnered three winners from just five previous mounts at Musselburgh.
Paul Midgley saddles four runners in the 13-strong field, including Tarboosh, a course and distance winner in 2019, Orvar, Latin Five and Son and Sannie.
With four races screened live on ITV, the £174,000 Betway Easter Saturday meeting heralds the start of Musselburgh’s 16 fixture Flat season and the start of the Scottish Flat season.
Musselburgh Racecourse general manager, Bill Farnsworth, said: “The quality of entries across the board is high and with a bright sunny afternoon forecast and the course in excellent shape, we hope to be setting the standard for another excellent season of Flat racing in Scotland.
“While racing continues to be held behind-closed-doors for the moment, we are primed for any relaxation in the Covid-19 regulations and ready to respond to a change in circumstances when we can welcome back spectators to the thrill for turf racing.”