Carlisle Racecourse often doesn’t get the praise it deserves for its quality, or its historical significance.
Racing has been held on the site of what is now Carlisle Racecourse since 1904. It’s main historical claim to fame is that the first Tote pool betting system in Britain opened here in 1929.
While also hosting National Hunt races during the winter, Carlisle is known best for its popular midweek showcase handicaps in the summer.
The historic Carlisle Bell and Cumberland Plate are extremely well supported to this day, with the Northumberland Plate meeting coming hot on the heels of these races just an hour along the road at Newcastle.
- Address – Carlisle Racecourse, Durdar Road, Carlisle, Cumbria, CA2 4TS.
- Owner – The Jockey Club.
- TV Station – Racing TV.
- Type – Flat and National Hunt.
- Surface – Turf.
Carlisle is a popular dual-purpose track, hosting Flat racing in the summer and jumps racing in the winter months.
Though we’re in the minority in being loath to separate racing by region, Carlisle is important on the northern racing circuit with trainers based in Cumbria, Lancashire, Northumberland and around Scotland being particularly supportive.
Carlisle’s Flat track is right-handed and largely galloping in nature.
Around 1½ miles in length, the track has a chute for five and six-furlong sprint race starts, though there is no truly straight sprint as the runners are nearly always on the turn until hitting the three-furlong pole.
The turns are easy around Carlisle, though the track typically offers a big test of a horse’s stamina. That would be true of almost all distances, although those racing over 1m6f to 2m1f have to tackle a little of everything.
At those starts, they’ll hit the uphill section of the home straight, turn sharply onto a downhill section up the side of the course, go back uphill to the one-mile marker, stay level until hitting the uphill straight once again and then finally levelling off right before the line.
Flat Track Analysis
Jockeys have reported that the ground somewhat drops away from a mile-and-a-quarter out, meaning over staying distances there is little trouble as they don’t usually bunch up against the rail.
The main focus of jockey feedback has been the clear need for stamina. Your horse will really need to stay the full trip here, so always keep that in mind when handicapping races. A horse showing class but just getting home over 1¼ miles would not be well fancied, regardless of form, to see out 1½ miles here.
Right-handed of course, Carlisle’s National Hunt track undulates plenty and is of pretty much a galloping nature.
Noted as tough owing to the pronounced uphill finish, it can actually lead to slower paced races and jockeys perhaps giving themselves too much to do because of attempting to keep some petrol in the tank for the final few furlongs.
Whatever, there are two main paradoxical factors at Carlisle; the fences are basically the easiest you’ll find anywhere, but the ground in the winter is also among the most testing you’ll get which still makes it an extreme task for any jumper.
Jumps Track Analysis
Well liked by jockeys, Carlisle is thought of as a galloping track by riders but more to the point, top trainers also love to send some very nice jumpers to Cumbria to run here.
The thought among writers, handicappers and others involved in the game is that then fences are really easy here, but be aware that jockeys don’t necessarily agree.
A couple of the obstacles here can catch runners out, so given the stiff nature of the track and the tendency for it to ride very slow and testing, keep in mind your horse will need to jump well to be seen to best effect.
Visiting Carlisle Racecourse
Carlisle Racecourse offers itself as an easy venue to get to.
Close to the A69 linking it with Newcastle and Northumberland, Carlisle is also right off the M6 which links it easily to the Lakes and Lancashire to the south, as well as southwest Scotland as the M6 becomes the M74.
How to Get to Carlisle
If you’re coming from the Newcastle or Northumberland areas, just head west along the A69. Carlisle Racecourse is 60 miles from Newcastle and is signposted once in the city.
From the Glasgow area, head south down the M74 and the onto the M6, coming off at junction 42.
The same junction of the M6 can be taken from the south. Preston is around 86 miles down the motorway, while journeys from the Lakes may be 30-50 miles depending on where you stay.
As usual, the best way to get to the track is via train then taxi. Carlisle’s train station is right in the heart of town and has taxi services and car rental right outside.
The station is 2½ miles from the track and is on the west coast main line, meaning links from up and down that side of the country are plentiful, while the regular Newcastle to Carlisle route also comes in from the east linking that side of the country too.
Where to Stay
Most racegoers would choose to either stay in Carlisle, which has enough rooms to satisfy demand, or take in the wonderful views of the Lake District before travelling to the track by car or train.
Carlisle Racecourse Fixtures
|Sunday||17th Dec 2023||Afternoon||Jump / Turf|
Major Events at Carlisle
Carlisle is an important track, especially for novice jumpers as they prepare for bigger and better things during the winter ahead.
In terms of prestige however, these are the biggest races at the track throughout the year:
|Carlisle Bell||3yo+, Handicap, Class 4||1m||Flat||June|
|Cumberland Plate||3yo+, Handicap, Class 4||1m3f||Flat||June|
|Eternal Stakes||3yo Fillies Only, Listed Race||7f||Flat||June|
|Graduation Chase||4yo+, Class 2||2m||Jumps||November|
About Carlisle Racecourse
Carlisle Racecourse still unfortunately flies under the radar rather, but its history is so important to the sport.
The Carlisle Bell for instance looks to some simply like a Class 4 handicap run midweek, which doesn’t sound spectacular.
However, it is one of the oldest recognised horse races in existence, first run in 1599.
As we mentioned above, Carlisle also made history on July 2nd 1929. On that day, the brand-new Totalisator Board betting system was used for the very first time on a British racecourse, with Tote betting after that becoming commonplace at tracks up and down the country.