Monks on mules probably started the racing tradition at Cartmel, way back in the twelfth century but the annual Whit Monday race meeting only started in 1856. A year later the railway came to Cark-in-Cartmel, which dramatically increased the visitor numbers. Originally a flat race, the move to jumps happened in the late 1900s, reflecting the hunting and farming roots of the local community.
Racing was understandably suspended during both world wars and until 1947 there was only one race day in the season. A Saturday was added after the war, with the August meeting introduced in the 1960s. At that time, the jockeys were almost all amateurs until military men Colonel Davy Pain and Major Tim Riley brought their army experience to Cartmel.
Between them they transformed what had been a sleepy local course into a major National Hunt venue, attracting professional jockeys from far and wide, as well as boosting the number of visitors with improved facilities and the introduction of the now legendary funfair.
Holker Estate, home of the Cavendish family, has always owned the racecourse and in 1974 Lord Cavendish joined the Board of Directors. Such was his enthusiasm for the racecourse, in 1998 he bought the business, and continued to develop the facilities, including a new Grandstand and hospitality venue in 2004.
In recent years, Cartmel has continued to invest in the course, resulting in the team winning the prestigious RCA Racecourse Groundstaff Champions award in 2016.
After two years of racing behind closed doors during the pandemic, 2022 saw a return to normality. Post-pandemic there’s a huge appetite for a feel-good day out and it’s great to open our gates again to the racegoing public, delivering a unique combination of quirky charm and top class racing.
Book now to join us for an unforgettable day out at Cartmel Races.