Musselburgh Racecourse Guide

Musselburgh Course
Musselburgh Course (Leslie Barrie /

The second biggest racecourse in Scotland, Musselburgh combines both flat and National Hunt racing across 28 days each year. It’s established itself as a stylish venue with many top class facilities and excellent transport links.

In 2016, it was one of only four UK racecourses to be nominated for at least three categories in the Racing Association Showcase Awards. The highly accredited venue was also judged as the best Dual Purpose course during the 2011 Neil Wyatt Racecourse Groundstaff Awards.

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The Course

Being able to negotiate bends is a vital skill at Musselburgh as the corners, particular those at the top end, are sharp. They did used to be even tougher but re-cambering work has allowed jockeys to take them with a little more speed, although the track still requires a nimble horse to take full advantage. There are no bends for minimum distance races though, where sprinters have a straight track, with just a slight rise, to compete on.

The obstacles on the jumps course are very evenly laid out, with four fairly stiff fences or three hurdles down each straight. Coming into the home straight, especially when conditions are good, horses need to be close to the lead as it can be hard to make up much ground. Much like the flat course, handy types should be preferred over gallopers.

The turf at Musselburgh drains very well and conditions rarely get heavy despite the Scottish rain. The corner leaving the stands used to be susceptible to being churned up but has since been replaced with a £100,000 all-weather polytrack strip.

Major Races

Musselburgh has a big recent addition to its racing schedule, the £100,000 Queen’s Cup which is the headline act in a new Easter Saturday fixture worth £200,000. It is hoped the regal 14 furlong handicap will be considered the first top staying handicap of the flat season.

The two other high profile races both fall in June. The first up is the Class 2 Edinburgh Castle Stakes which sees some promising two year olds compete over five furlongs. Later comes the Scottish Sprint Cup, which is contested over the same distance but tends to feature bigger fields and entry is open to horses three and over. Its popularity among trainers has meant that a consolation race has been created to include horses cut from the 48 hour declaration stage.


Musselburgh Grandstand
Musselburgh Grandstand (kim traynor /

Good attendances are a regular feature at Musselburgh particularly during June’s Ladies Day, when there can be a sell-out 10,000+ crowd.

Useful Info

Dress Code

There are no formal restrictions in place with regard to attire and racegoers are encouraged to dress for the weather. All public areas are paved so you needn’t worry about getting heels stuck in the mud.

On Ladies Day and Edinburgh Cup Day, many racegoers choose to dress up for the occasion and those who impress will stand the chance to win some great prizes.

Ticket Prices

Ticket prices tend to vary on whether or not you buy your tickets in advance. Early bird admission costs between £18 and £30 while on the gate tickets will be between £20 and £40. This does not apply to concessions (students, junior, senior citizens and the disabled) who pay £15 for most tickets regardless of when they are bought.

There are no discounted rates or advance savings for Ladies Day, which costs £50 per guest. Various race day packages are available for every meeting, including those in the Epperston Restaurant and prices start at around £100 (including entry).


There are two slightly different options for annual membership at Musselburgh. There is standard membership at £220 or premium membership at £270 (both include a £10 discount if buying online).

They both provide you with priority entrance, access to the exclusive grandstand and the members bar in Le Garcon D’or, over 65 reciprocal meetings and complimentary programmes at every meet. With premium membership, however, you also get five guest passes that can be used throughout the year.

Getting There

Traffic can be very busy on race days so it’s wise to give yourself plenty of time if driving to Musselburgh. There is a free park and ride service in operation next to Wallyford Railway Station which drivers and rail users can take advantage of.

It’s also possible to walk from the station to the course in around 20-minutes. Complementary shuttle buses will be in service between Edinburgh City Centre and Wallyford Station, and between Newcraighall Station and the racecourse.

Other bus services, such as Lothian Country Buses 26, 44, 113 & East Coast Buses 124 & X24, all stop close to the racecourse.


Free of charge parking is available nearby to the racecourse, located just off Balcarres Road, around a five minutes away. Passengers can be dropped off outside the main entrance beforehand and there is also a shuttle bus in place from the car park to the racecourse entry.


Aerial Views of Musselburgh Racecourse
Aerial Views of Musselburgh Racecourse (Thomas Nugent /

Musselburgh hosted its first races way back in 1777, organised by the Royal Caledonian Hunt. Racing only took places there sporadically between 1789 and 1816, however, with the bulk of the action taking place at Leith instead. Musselburgh became the permanent home for racing in this area after this point though, on a track which had been laid out by the town council.

Musselburgh enjoyed a boom period after the war as racecourses were the only source of a legal wager and attendances of 15,000 were commonplace. The situation changed in 1963, however, when betting shops were legalised and there was also a growth in alternate leisure activities. 

Financial Problems

The combination of the two factors hurt a number of racecourses in this period, including Musselburgh and it was in a poor financial state by the 1980s.

Things improved slightly in 1987 as extra revenue was generated by new technology, allowing Musselburgh to sell pictures of the races to betting shops. Losses were still being made into the 1990s, however, and to rectify this, East Lothian Council took over and was able to break even during their first year in charge.


Under new ownership and with the Musselburgh Joint Racing Committee, created in 1994, also offering a helping hand, things began to pick up very quickly. Since 1999, attendances have risen from 38,000 to over 70,000 each year and prize money has more than doubled. There has also been £7.5m invested into the facilities in recent years, helping to build a new hospitality stand, weighing room, parade ring and entrance complex plus improvements to the Edwardian Grandstand and all other public areas.

This has really brought the course into the 21st century and the future of the track looks bright, with further development likely. Musselburgh certainly offers a fine day out so if you’re in the area, give it a try.