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Historic Carlisle Bell falls foul of pandemic as Jockey Club counts the cost

David Egan won the Carlisle Bell on Rousayan last year but the race will not be run in 2020
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The Carlisle Bell, a race which dates back to 1599, will not be run in 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Carlisle will not race this summer as Jockey Club Racecourses is focusing its attention on fellow north-west track Haydock, due to the need to keep costs down in a time of much-reduced income.

Plans to transfer the historic handicap have come to nothing, although Haydock will stage the Eternal Stakes, normally run at Carlisle, on June 25.

The Carlisle race's name derives from the bells which were awarded to the winners during the reign of Elizabeth I. The bells are believed to be the oldest racing prizes in Britain and are held at a museum in the city, although they are often brought to the course on the track's biggest day of the year, which also traditionally features the Cumberland Plate and the Listed Eternal Stakes.

The Carlisle bells can be traced back to 1599

"Historically the race was staged at three times the minimum value and we simply couldn't fund it," said Kirkland Tellwright, clerk of the course at both tracks. "We are operating on a fraction of our normal revenues.

Kirkland Tellwright: "We all fervently hope this will just be a one-off"

"The Eternal Stakes has a purpose as part of the Pattern, a Listed race for fillies over seven furlongs.

"We have races similar to the Plate and the Bell at the two-day meeting but frankly we felt it would be something of an insult to transfer the race, call it the Bell and run it for a fraction of the value. It is better not to run it this year – we all fervently hope this will just be a one-off."

More to read:

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Historically the race was staged at three times the minimum value and we simply couldn't fund it

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Carlisle Haydock
E.W. Terms