THE 2019 season at Cartmel got off to a flying start as the hotly anticipated three-day Whit meeting got underway.
Saturday May 25 saw crowds of racegoers return to the course for the first time this year – with seven thrilling and well supported races throughout the afternoon.
The opening meeting marked the launch of Rogan & Co at the Races, a new luxury hospitality offering, with visitors treated not only to exquisite cuisine from Michelin-starred chef Simon Rogan but also to a breathtaking view of the final furlong.
Guests were also welcomed into the newly refurbished Louis Roederer boutique suite in The Grandstand.
The action continued on bank holiday Monday with a further seven races – with the crowds enjoying an electric atmosphere when the former Scottish Grand National winner, 14-year-old Al Co, stormed across the line to victory in the Priory Hotel Grand Veterans’ Chase under jockey Henry Brooke.
And Wednesday, May 29 saw Cartmel host its first Ladies Night and only evening fixture of the year.
Racegoers turned out in their finest despite a front of rain, providing the scouts on the course with a tricky task as they sought out finalists for the best dressed lady and gentleman competition.
In the end, Mary Speakman was crowned best dressed lady while Andrew Hudson, who was enjoying a pre-honeymoon evening out with wife Sara, took home the best dressed man title.
Each won a prize worth more than £1,100.
The pristine course garnered compliments from owners and trainers alike thanks to the hard work and dedication of head groundsman Gary Sharp and his team ahead of the season opener.
The going had changed from good to firm on Saturday to good to soft by Wednesday, necessitating the moving of the rails to provide fresh ground on the corners.
Steve Cooper, Holker Racing and Leisure managing director, said: “While the weather could have been kinder on Wednesday, the many hours of hard work by the whole team contributed to the success of the three day meeting.
“A big thank you goes to everyone involved who helped recreate the magical atmosphere this course is famed for.
“With the season now well and truly underway, we’re looking ahead to our next raceday – the Cartmel Racecourse summer concert on Friday June 28.
“We are delighted to have a line up of top acts in store this year with Sophie Ellis-Bextor taking to the stage ahead of headline act Sir Cliff Richard – an icon of the British music industry.
“It is certain to be an unforgettable day out for everyone.”
For information and ticket purchases visit cartmel-racecourse.co.uk