The Ultimate Guide to Carlisle Racecourse

CarlisleCarlisle Racecourse is situated on the southern fringe of the city of Carlisle in the county of Cumbria in northwest England. Racing in Carlisle dates back to the late 16th century, but the racecourse moved to its current location, at Blackwell, when the Duke of Devonshire refused to renew the lease on its previous location, known as “The Swifts”, closer to the city centre in 1904. One of the oldest horse races in the country, the Carlisle Bell, takes place at Carlisle Racecourse in June each year. The race dates from the reign of Queen Elizabeth I and is named after the silver bell that was originally presented as a trophy to the winning owner. Nowadays, Carlisle Racecourse hosts a total of 22 Flat and National Hunt meetings throughout the year offering nearly £1 million in prize money.

For most of the year, Carlisle Racecourse offers race goers just one enclosure with a general admission price of £15, with concessions for senior citizens and students. However, for the Stobart Group Summer Festival on July 6, 2013, which features a live concert from Madness and the Ultimate Ladies' Night on August 5, 2013, which features a live concert from Ronan Keating, the admission price rises to £25 and £30 respectively, with no concessions.

For corporate events, such as conferences, exhibitions and meetings, Carlisle Racecourse offers a purpose built conference and exhibition centre, set in 250 acres of parkland with ample free parking. The Bell Hall, an open plan room on the ground floor of the grandstand, includes vehicular access, making it suitable for exhibitions. The Patterson Suite, on the first floor, can be used as a single large room, or be split into two smaller rooms, while the seven syndicate rooms on the second floor also offer flexibility in size and function. The grandstand is equipped with Wi-Fi and presentation equipment, such as an LCD projector and screen and a flipchart and pens are available free of charge. As an alternative to the grandstand, the Lawn Suite is situated alongside the racecourse, overlooking the parade ring and offers up to six individual rooms.

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Getting there

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What's unique about the course at Carlisle?

Carlisle guide
The round course at Carlisle is a right-handed, galloping, pear-shaped track, which runs downhill for the first three furlongs, rises slightly and levels out for the final mile, including the three-furlong straight.

The six-furlong course, which involves two right-handed bends, is level for the first two furlongs, but thereafter rises steeply until the furlong marker, making it a stiff test. Over jumps, there are nine fences per circuit and a run-in of 300 yards; the uphill home straight makes Carlisle a thorough test of stamina.

Notable Races and Events

Red RumCarlisle Racecourse has the distinction of being the first racecourse in Britain to launch a Tote facility, in 1929.

Red Rum, who won the Grand National in 1973, 1974 and 1977, won the Windermere Handicap Chase, over 3 miles, at Carlisle the previous autumn on each occasion. Interestingly, when Red Rum was beaten in the Grand National in 1975 and 1976, he was also beaten in the Windermere Handicap Chase the previous autumn. The Red Rum Bar at Carlisle now bears his name.

More recently, in 2011, Carlisle Racecourse launched Ultimate Ladies Night, which is the only horse racing fixture in the world exclusively for lady jockeys and was voted Best Event of 2011 by the Racecourse Association in its inaugural year. In October the same year, retiring head groundsman Tony Wooten officially opened the £1.5m hurdle course at Carlisle, named the Wooten Course in recognition of his 24 years' service to the racecourse.

The winner of the Carlisle Bell in 2012, Levitate, failed to add to his winning tally in three further starts for Nottinghamshire trainer Alan McCabe that year, but shortly after being transferred to North Yorkshire trainer John Quinn in February 2013 won the William Hill Lincoln at Doncaster at odds of 20/1.


Nicky Richards' Monet's Garden, one of the best horses to be trained in Cumbria, was officially retired from racing in 2010, but returned to Carlisle as a 15-year-old in March 2013 to open Monet's Bar, named in his honour.

Top Owners, Jockeys and Trainers

On the Flat at Carlisle, Paul Hanagan is the leading jockey during the last five seasons with 23 winners from 117 rides. Tim Easterby is the leading trainer in the same period with 21 winners from 135 runners and Koo's Racing Club, with 3 winners from 17 runners, heads the owners table, although Corsby Racing, Geoff and Sandra Turnbull and The Sunnyside Racing Partnership, among others, have all recorded three wins.

Over Jumps, Jason Maguire, with 18 winners from 87 rides, is marginally ahead of Peter Buchanan, with 17 winners from 143 rides, in the jockeys' table. Jason Maguire's boss, Donald McCain is the leading trainer with 26 winners from 154 runners and Andrea and Graham Wylie are the leading owners with 15 winners from 61 runners.

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