CHESTER Race Company has today officially taken over the reins at Musselburgh Racecourse.

East Lothian Council has confirmed that a contract handing operations of the course to Chester, who will operate the course as Musselburgh Racecourse Ltd, was signed earlier today.

The racecourse – which is on Common Good land – was put out to tender for third party operators in 2018 after a troubled history surrounding its management committee saw the British Horseracing Authority demand an independent review of its governance.

A new Musselburgh Racing Associated Committee was established with four elected councillors and two representatives of Lothians Racing Syndicate, to oversee the transfer to new operators.

Chester was named as the preferred bidder in October last year but negotiations were delayed by the coronavirus crisis.

The handover comes just days before Musselburgh welcomes the return of racing with its first fixtures being held behind closed doors on Tuesday, June 30 and Wednesday, July 1.

Councillor Fiona O’Donnell, MRAC chairperson, said: “I welcome the completion of the transfer of Musselburgh racecourse to the new operator, Musselburgh Racecourse Limited, part of Chester Racecourse’s group of companies. 

"I want to thank all the members of the Musselburgh Racing Association, and its predecessor, MJRC, for their contributions over the years, both councillors and representatives of the LRS.

"It is their work and the staff team which has transformed the racecourse into a five star visitor attraction.

"I look forward to a positive working relationship with the new operators as we move forward into this new chapter in the history of the racecourse, to the benefit of everyone involved, the community of Musselburgh and the wider East Lothian economy