Cartmel Racecourse is situated in the village of Cartmel, on the edge of the Lake District, in what was, historically, part of the county of Lancashire, but is now part of the county of Cumbria. The racecourse stands on land owned by the Holker Estate and the first written record of racing at Cartmel dates back to 1856. Originally, Cartmel staged just one fixture a year, on Whit Monday, but additional fixtures have been added over the years. Nevertheless, Cartmel Racecourse still only stages seven racedays a year, starting with North West Evening Mail Vintage Racenight, an evening fixture in late May and ending with the August Bank Holiday Festival. In 2004, the old grandstand was demolished and replaced with a new version, including a new restaurant and hospitality facilities.
For racegoers, Cartmel Racecourse offers a choice of the Paddock Enclosure and the Course Enclosure. Admission prices range from £20 in the Paddock Enclosure on weekends and bank holidays to £10 in the Course Enclosure on weekdays, although there are concessions for senior citizens and admission is free for accompanied children in both enclosures.
For corporate events, such as conferences, exhibitions and seminars, Cartmel Racecourse offers a modern, multifunctional building, finished to the highest standards throughout and set in rolling parkland in the English Lake District. Ample parking is available for any number of delegates and technical equipment is available on request. The racecourse facilities have been used successfully for events large and small, including fashion shows, motor shows and product launches among many others. A dedicated events management team is on hand to offer as much, or as little, assistance as you need and to discuss various bespoke options available with regard to catering, licensed bars and private rooms.
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What's unique about the course at Cartmel?
Cartmel is a left-handed, sharp, undulating track, just over a mile in circumference. The fences, of which there are just six per circuit, are considered stiff for a minor track. The run-in, of four furlongs, is the longest in the country and turns into the finishing straight, which bisects the course, about a furlong from the winning post.
Runners complete two circuits of the track for races over 2 miles 1 furlong and three circuits for races over 3 miles 2 furlongs. Although opportunities to race at Cartmel are limited, the racecourse often throws up course specialists who run well and often win at Cartmel but nowhere else. Flahive's First, trained by Dai Burchell in Blaenau Gwent, won six times at Cartmel and only once anywhere else between 1998 and 2004 and there are plenty of similar examples.
Notable Races and Events
One of the most infamous coupes in the history of British racing was attempted at Cartmel in 1974. In a complicated plot, befitting a Dick Francis novel, a horse purporting to be Gay Future, owned by Irish millionaire Tony Murphy, was sent to part-time trainer Tony Collins and exposed to the betting public as a poor performer. Meanwhile, the real Gay Future was being trained in Ireland by Edward O'Grady and, on the weekend of the August bank holiday, the busiest of the year, was substituted for his less able doppelganger at Cartmel. At that time, Cartmel Racecourse had no “blower”, which relayed racing news to betting shops around the country and the fraudsters hoped to take advantage of the lack of communication. In any event, the real Gay Future won by 15 lengths at odds of 10/1 under leading Irish amateur Timmy Jones, but rather than collecting on £30,000 worth of bets, placed in small amounts in Cork and London, Murphy and Collins ended up in court and were warned off for 10 years.
In 2012, Cartmel staged a two-day fixture in July for the first time. It was the most valuable fixture in the history of the racecourse, with £125,000 in prize money over the two days. It also featured the inaugural running of the Cumbria Crystal Trophy Handicap Hurdle, worth £18,194 to the winner. The race attracted a high quality field of 16 runners and was eventually won by Alistair Whillans' 8-year-old What a Steel at 14/1.
Top Owners, Jockeys and Trainers
Donald McCain, who trains at Cholmondeley, Cheshire, has had more runners than any other trainer at Cartmel during the last five seasons and, unsurprisingly, heads the trainers' table with 19 winners from 77 runners in that period. Diane Sayer is a slightly distant second with 9 winners from 46 runners. Donald McCain's stable jockey, Jason Maguire, similarly heads the jockeys' table with 16 winners from 51 rides, although he's not quite so far ahead of Brian Hughes with 11 winners from 97 rides and Tony McCoy with 10 winners from 34 rides. H.G. Racing heads the owners' table with 7 winners from 15 runners.
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