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Racing returns to Carlisle this Wednesday as Cumbria’s premier racecourse hosts its first meeting of the year.

And 2017 is already shaping up to be a sensational year both on and off the track at Carlisle Racecourse.

More than £150,000 is being invested in improving facilities including the refurbishment of all hospitality areas – the sumptuous Swifts Restaurant, located on the first floor of The Grandstand, as well as The Patterson and Red Rum bars.

A number of improvements are also being made to the course including work to increase drainage in some lower parts of the flat, hurdles and chase tracks.

There are a total of 26 race meetings this year which promise to be fun for all the family.

They kick-off on Wednesday and some of the nation’s leading trainers – including Jonjo O’Neill, Mick Channon, David Pipe and Donald McCain – have runners entered.

O’Neill includes Big Penny, an impressive winner by 10 lengths last time out in Ireland, together with Join The Clan and Celtic Tune who will look to go one better than their recent second places at Chepstow and Hereford respectively.

Elsewhere, local favourite and Brampton-trained Carrigdhoun will be looking to make it three wins from three runs at Carlisle, having won twice here back in October including a thrilling triumph in the Red Rum Day meeting.

He is one of two Maurice Barnes trained runners, the other being Oishin who won on his last time out at Newcastle.

McCain tops the entries list with nine runners, including Lastbutnotleast who won last time out at Hexham in December, following on from placing first and second in her first two races.

On top of the mid-week afternoon and evening meetings Carlisle hosts weekend racing on Sunday March 19th; Saturday April 15th (the annual Easter Family Fun Day); Saturday July 8th; Sunday November 5th, Sunday December 3rd (the new Northern Lights meeting with £150,000 prize money is up for grabs) and Sunday December 17th.

There are a number of music events this year at Carlisle Racecourse with chart-topper and Brit Award nominee Jess Glynne performing live after racing on Saturday July 8th.

The annual Ladies Day #AmazingMonday – the world’s only all-female jockey race event – is on Monday August 7th. BBC Radio 2 DJ Jo Whiley will host a special ‘Party In The Paddock’ following the racing.

Geraldine McKay, Carlisle Racecourse’s General Manager, said: “We can’t wait to open the gates on Wednesday and get racing underway here at Carlisle.

“We are very excited about 2017. We have some wonderful events such as #AmazingMonday, our live music event on July 8th with Jess Glynne and the many family racedays.

“But above all we are looking forward to another fantastic year of racing. We have some great meetings over the next 12 months including our very first Northern Lights meeting which is a brand new and top class fixture for Cumbria.

“We are sure that what we have lined up for this year will bring many new faces here. We can’t wait to welcome them together with our regular racegoers and show off the improvements we have made to our facilities.

“So come on down and enjoy a wonderful day of racing in 2017.”

Tickets for Wednesday’s meeting are £14.00 (in advance) or £17.00 (on the day). Under-17s get in free when accompanied by an adult. Gates open 11.50am. First race 1.50pm, last race 4.30pm.

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