Carlisle Racecourse

Carlisle Racecourse, Durdar Road, Carlisle, Cumbria, CA2 4TS - Map & Directions
01228 554700
Carlisle Racecourse Entrance
Carlisle Racecourse Entrance (Brian Norman /

Just down the road from Hadrian’s Wall and the Scottish border, Carlisle prides itself on being England’s most northern city and the racecourse has stood in its current location since 1904. Racing takes place there all through the year, with flat racing in the summer from April to August, followed by National Hunt races between September and April. The course at Carlisle is situated in a country park, so despite being just two miles from the city centre, spectators are treated to excellent views of the picturesque Cumbrian landscape.

Carlisle racecourse is extremely accessible by most forms of transport, with those travelling by car just needing to join the M6 and leave at Junction 42 with easy to follow signs directing you to the course. Trains to and from Newcastle upon Tyne regularly serve the train station at Carlisle, whilst it is one of the major stops on the London Euston to Glasgow line, so trains are very frequent no matter where you are travelling from. The station is just two miles from the racecourse and access is available via buses from the station.

Ticket Prices

Aside from hospitality, Carlisle offers two separate forms of ticket – general admission or premier admission. General admission prices start at just £11.50, whilst for the increased price of £21 customers are allowed access to the premier bars and enclosures. All visitors under the age of 17 are offered free entry when accompanied by a full paying adult.

The Course

Carlisle Flat & Jumps Racecourse Map

The flat course at Carlisle is a galloping, pear-shaped one with right handed turns. Sprint races take place on a small chute near the final bend, making the track somewhat straight but for longer races they must take on the long sweeping bend before the home straight. It’s hard work from this point on for races of all distance, as there’s a fair old climb before the course eventually flattens out close to the winning post.

There are a few things that the flat and the jumping courses have in common. Both have a rather sharp climb to the finish, which does put a bit of emphasis on stamina here. Another shared feature is that, due to the wet weather, Carlisle often receives, jockeys, particularly during jump racing, will switch to the stand side where the ground tends to be a little firmer. Of course it is equally true to say that in general, horses who go well on the softer ground are likely to prosper at Carlisle.

The venue has three jumping tracks in total, all of which are a little more undulating than the flat layout. There is one for steeplechases around the outside and the two on the inside for hurdles. Given the stiff nature of the course, it’s a track where many trainers give horses a worthwhile run out. It’s not really a test of jumping ability though. The fences are quite easy compared to others and there’s only a couple that ever catch runners out.

Lucky Number 8

There is no real evidence of a strong draw bias at Carlisle – a quite surprising finding for sprint races as the track bends to the left before straightening up around two furlongs from the line. Some data suggests that low drawn horses do have an advantage but this is only true during small fields. The bias disappears almost entirely when fields features eight or more horses, in part because those drawn on the outside are often directed to the outer rail by their jockeys. This is particularly the case when the going is soft, hardly an uncommon occurrence at a place like Carlisle.

Although we mentioned there’s no significant bias in sprint races featuring eight or more runners, there seems to be something special about gate number eight. Horses starting from this lucky spot posted a level stakes profit of nearly £70 between August 2009 and 2019, as well as the second highest win %. Given that no other stall could even muster £10 profit on a £1 bet, it’s quite hard to explain why it’s proven such a blessed starting place. Perhaps it’s just a bizarre anomaly or a coincidence that we have had some long odds winners from this stall but it remains something to keep your eye on.

Jockeyship Important

In non-sprint races at Carlisle, starting positions makes little difference to the outcome of races regardless of field size but jockeyship does. One man who’s got the art down to a tee on the northern racecourse is Ben Curtis, who as of August 2019 had a 27% win rate from 146 rides, posting a staggering level stakes profit of £140.35. It appears that he knows better than anyone that in sprint races, leading early on is of vital importance as horses held back so often struggle.

As distances increase, the success of front running tactics becomes less strong but taking a prominent position in seven furlong and one mile races before the long bend remains important when the going is good.

The tactical nous required over this kind of distance isn’t really needed for 1m 6f and 2m 1f tests though. Over both these lengths, the fields often spread out early on as they speed across the downhill section, just past what will be the finishing post next time round, so potential threats are usually lacking by the time the post comes round again, especially as making up ground is difficult coming up the hill.

Major Meetings at Carlisle

Carlisle Guildhall Museum
Carlisle Guildhall Museum where the famous bells are on display (Mike Smith /

The most famous races at Carlisle are the two traditional ones. The Carlisle Bell is one of the oldest races in existence as it was first contested in 1599 and is still run annually to this day – a 1m race held every June. The name of the race relates to the bells that were awarded to the winners of the race under Elizabeth I’s reign, and the original bells can be found at the Carlisle Guildhall Museum. The Cumberland Plate also originates from a similar time and is still run today, a 1m4f race which also takes place in June.

Dining and Hospitality

Carlisle Racecourse
Carlisle Racecourse (JThomas /

Carlisle offers two separate types of hospitality facility – executive boxes are located on the second floor of the main grandstand and can accommodate up to 30 guests, giving a fantastic view of the racecourse and surrounding scenery. Alternatively, lawn suites are located trackside and can house up to 20 people, which gives guests an up close view of the race and provides a much more interactive experience of the action.

Both start at the same price at just £79 + VAT per person, with the Premier option £95 + VAT per person and the VIP experience £124 + VAT per person. Customers also have the option of dining in the excellent Swifts restaurant, with a three course meal priced at just £64 + VAT per head, whilst the facilities are available to hire on non-race days for business conferences, parties and weddings.


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