Carlisle Racecourse Guide

Guide to Carlisle Racecourse

Carlisle Racecourse started racing in 1599, during the reign of Elizabeth I. Carlisle Races is also the place that the tote operated their pool betting system for the first time on a British racecourse.

Carlisle Racecourse News from Eclipse

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Carlisle Racecourse News

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Go Racing at Carlisle

Flat / National Hunt


Carlisle has a history of horseracing at Swift (the racing venue before the site used currently) dating back 1559, during the second year of Queen Elizabeth I’s reign. In 1559 the Carlisle gold bell was donated by Lady Dacre for first ever winner of the feature race that continues to this day, and is now one of the oldest horseraces in Britain. The Large Bell is inscribed ‘The sweftes horse thes bel to tak for mi lade Daker sake’ which translates as ‘The Swiftest horse this bell to take for my lady Dacre’s sake’. A second, small bell is inscribed 1599 HBMC apparently after the Mayor of Carlisle at this time, Henry Baines. To this day, the bells are still the prize for the winner of Cumbria’s most celebrated Flat race, The Carlisle Bell, which is run every June for three-year-olds and above.

Major Benefactors

The course moved to its current site at Blackwell in 1904 and its first grandstand was built shortly afterwards. Unfortunately it was not immediately successful and went up for sale in 1906. However, Sir Loftus Bates rode in to the rescue and formed a company, together with Charles Henderson and George Todd; they negotiated a deal with the Railway Company for trains to offer better fares to help boost attendances. This helped the course to recover from its financial difficulties and it was doing well until it was forced to close during the war years. In 1946 Sir Loftus Bates, by then a Clerk of the Course at Carlisle, and a great champion of northern racing, handed over the reins to Kit Patterson.

Link to the Tote

On 2nd July 1929 Carlisle aimed to create British racing history by becoming the first racecourse to host a pool betting system, when, the newly-formed Totalisator Board (tote) was launched. However, they were pipped to the post when Newmarket ran their first race 15 minutes before the first at Carlisle.

The Course Today

In 2002, Carlisle opened its new, state-of-the-art grandstand. The track at Carlisle is 1 mile and 4 furlongs (2.41 km) long, right-handed with a steep uphill finish for the last half mile. It hosts Flat racing in the summer and National Hunt racing during the winter months. The going can get very Heavy in the winter.

Important Races/Festivals

  • June – Carlisle Bell; Cumberland Plate
  • November – Colin Parker Memorial Intermediate Chase; Cumberland Handicap Chase
  • December – Houghton Mares’ Chase


The Racecourse, Durdar Road,
 CA2 4TS.

  • Road: Leave the M6 at Junction 42. Follow the road for approximately 2 miles until you reach a staggered junction – turn right. The racecourse is approximately 1 mile on the left.
  • Rail: Trains run from London Euston. Carlisle station is in the city centre, about two miles from the course. There are bus services that stop near the racecourse, or on racedays there is a special service that runs from the bus station to the racecourse.
  • Website:
  • Telephone: 01273 603580.

The Carlisle Races Directory - Local Services

Travelling to Carlisle Racecourse? Want to know where to stay, where to eat, where to get your hair and nails done? How about where the best pubs are and the name of a reliable taxi? We can help. Check back frequently – this section is updated on a regular basis. 

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