Racing’s speed kings are heading back to Carlisle – and one leading trainer is already eyeing a repeat of his most famous triumph at the course.
Flat racing returns to Cumbria on Monday May 21 with the first fixture of 2018. It will be followed by a season packed with top quality racing, historic meetings and live music events.
Trainer Richard Fahey is certainly relishing a new season at Carlisle and a repeat of his 2017 success.
Fahey triumphed in the coveted Carlisle Bell for the first time in his illustrious career and finished as the course’s top trainer with a stunning final day treble.
Those victories helped his Musley Bank stables to 200 winners in the year, the second time they’ve managed the feat. Now he’s hoping that Cumbria will once again prove a happy hunting ground.
Fahey said: “We Like Carlisle. We’ve sent plenty of horses over the years and this season will be no different.
“You don’t get many hard luck stories at Carlisle. It’s a fair track. By that I mean you can win from the outside, there’s plenty of room to get around.”
That’s exactly what Fahey’s Carnageo (pictured above) did under Paul Hanagan when coming from behind to take the historic Bell in June and justify his 13-2 joint favourite starting price.
Fahey, based at Malton, North Yorkshire, said: “He came from a long way back that day. He got a good gallop on.”
That success at Carlisle’s showcase Flat meeting in June was followed with three winners as the season drew to a close in September.
Fahey trailed Keith Dalgleish going into the Durdar circuit’s final meeting. But wins for Powerful Society, Ocean Voyage and Billy Bond – at 20-1 in the very last race – meant Fahey finished with 10 winners and the track’s top spot for 2017.
This time, the stable’s early season has been blighted by the poor weather meaning Fahey hasn’t seen as much as he would like of some of his charges. Decisions on likely runners for the opening fixture on Monday May 21 have yet to be made.
He added: “We’re behind where we want to be but it looks like we’re in for some dry weather now, so we’ve got some catching up to do.”
Fahey wants to notch a third season of 200-plus winners and ultimately to beat the £4m in prize money secured last year.
He’s also looking for a new name to lead the charge after the retirement of his star thoroughbred, Ribchester.
Sands of Mali could be that horse. Already a winner at Chantilly in April he looks set for a tilt at the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.
Fahey will join a host of leading trainers at Carlisle’s season debut on May 21.
Dalgleish, pipped for the course’s leading trainer crown in 2017, is a big supporter of the course and landed the 2016 Carlisle Bell with Edgar Balthazar.
And the course’s General Manager Molly Dingwall cannot wait to welcome the jockeys, trainers, horses and punters to the course. Molly said: “The course is looking great and we have a packed season ahead.
“Carlisle Bell and Cumberland Plate day always throws up some intriguing match-ups and, of course, on the day we will crown the latest winner of a race which has been run since the days of Elizabeth I.
“Both trainers and jockeys love coming to Carlisle and the real test it gives them. We’ve seen some great horses here down the years we are looking forward to see what this season brings.
“Alongside the top racing we also have some amazing social events coming up, so it’s fair to say we cannot wait to welcome everyone here from May 21.”
JUST SOME OF THE HIGHLIGHTS OF THIS YEAR’S FLAT SEASON AT CARLISLE
Monday May 21 – Flat Season Opener
The first flat meeting of the season.
Gates open on Monday May 21 at 12.25pm. First race is 2.25pm and last race is 5.45pm. Adult tickets are £15 (in advance) or £18 (on the day). All under 18s get in free when accompanied by an adult.
Friday June 8 – Feelgood Friday with The Mersey Beatles
It’s #FeelGood Friday at Carlisle Racecourse. Take the afternoon off work, relax with friends and see some great racing and enjoy live music courtesy of The Mersey Beatles.
This top tribute band – who have toured the world several times and were the resident Beatles’ house band at Liverpool’s world-famous Cavern Club – will play a special post-racing gig featuring a hit-packed-set of Fab Four classics.
Wednesday June 27 – Bell and Plate Day
The famous Carlisle Bell and Cumberland Plate Day is steeped in tradition having been run since 1599 during the days of Elizabeth 1.
It is the race that stops Carlisle. Thousands head to course for a wonderful day of racing as horses and jockeys battle it out for the world’s oldest sporting trophy.
Saturday July 7 – Paloma Faith Live
One of the UK’s hottest stars Paloma Faith is heading to Carlisle for a special post-racing gig.
With her acclaimed Number 1 album ‘The Architect’ riding high in the charts and a BRIT nomination for Best British Female, Paloma Faith brings hits old and new to the course for a stunning headline performance.
Monday August 6 – Ladies Night, with special DJ Set by Mel C
Carlisle is proud to be at the forefront of promoting and inspiring women in sport.
On the track, racing’s leading and up-and-coming female riders will look to secure the £20,000 Development Prize Fund.
Off the track, Ladies Night has rapidly become Carlisle’s most devilishly chic day out of the year, oozing style, glamour and fun. And this year Spice Girl and global superstar Mel C will host our post-race ‘Party in The Paddock’ with a special DJ set.