One of the region’s summer highlights is back as Cartmel Racecourse gears up for its August Bank Holiday celebration of racing and family fun.
The event, which is famous for its festival atmosphere, is set to go ahead without restrictions.
A crowd of up to 14,000 is expected for the Cartmel Cup on Saturday 28 and the Season Finale on Monday 30, with seven races per day plus food and drink concessions, trade stands and funfair.
“Racing at Cartmel is a very different experience, like a mixture of racing, a county show and a festival,” says racecourse director Geraldine McKay.
“You are allowed to do everything at Cartmel that you can’t do at any other racecourse – bring your own food and drink, have a barbeque, bring your own furniture and set up your own base camp.”
Families return generation after generation because of the relaxed friendly vibe, the attractions, and the beauty of the setting.
“It’s traditional for many people to come every year,” said Geraldine. “We always have lots of holidaymakers who camp or stay in our caravan park or in B&Bs and hotels.”
The racecourse is set in idyllic scenery just south of the Lake District National Park, and the small racetrack runs around the outside of the audience meaning everyone is close to the action.
The medieval village of Cartmel – famous as the home of the original sticky toffee pudding – is a stone’s throw away.
“You are always close to the horses and there are no out-of-sight points on the track,” said Geraldine. “We have the funfair going the whole time. People come and set up their base camp and then pop into the village for a meal at a pub or to get some sticky toffee pudding and then come back. It’s a mad atmosphere unlike any other race meeting.”
Cartmel Racecourse was able to operate without Covid restrictions from July 19 and Geraldine says this year’s August Bank Holiday event will be almost back to normal.
“We called our earlier fixtures Cartmel-lite but it will be very exciting to be able to return to a full Cartmel experience with a big funfair and trade stands and food and drink concessions.
“We are an outdoor event, so we just say to people please follow any Government guidelines at the time and other than that there are no restrictions,” says Geraldine.
Attractions include Cartmel brewer Unsworth’s Yard, Furness Fish and Game, jump racing stalwart Harry the Hat, VW Crepes and Coffee Bug offering speciality hot drinks and cocktails.
Another highlight for many is a special service held on the Sunday between the two fixtures, at Cartmel’s 800-year-old Priory giving thanks for the racehorse. Local trainer Jimmy Moffatt usually brings a couple of racehorses to meet the crowds.
New race sponsors this year include Fitzdares bookmaker and Molson Coors. Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding are longstanding sponsors and by tradition every winning jockey, trainer and owner gets one of the puddings – provoking some fierce competition.
Cartmel is one of the UK’s best loved racecourses and was voted Readers’ Choice in the Racing Post in 2018.
Geraldine says: “If you have been before, we welcome you back. And if you are just hearing about Cartmel Races for the first time, come and try it. There is nothing else quite like it.”