THE starting stalls are about to fly open at Carlisle Racecourse for the first time in 2009.

The Cumbrian racecourse is laying on an exciting schedule of eight Flat racing fixtures between Bank Holiday Monday, May 25 and mid-August.

In that time the racecourse will welcome a host of X-Factor stars, Escala and female darts superstar Anastasia Dobromyslova.

There is Carlisle Bell and Cumberland Plate Day, Carlisle Live, plus Edinburgh Woollen Mill Ladies' Night.

The season kicks off with the May Bank Holiday Carnival Day, which includes many children's entertainments to make it a family day out.

The Flat racing highlights during 2009 are: *Bank Holiday Monday, May 25 - Carnival day; *Monday, June 1 - Gentlemen's Day; *Monday, June 15 - Afternoon Racing; *Wednesday,June 24 - Carlisle Bell & Cumberland Plate day; *Saturday evening, July 4 - Summer Family Festival, including fireworks finale and Escala in concert; *Sunday, July 26 - Carlisle Live Family Fun day, with X-Factor stars Eoghan Quigg, Ruth Lorenzo and Laura White; *Monday evening,August 3 - Edinburgh Woollen Mill Ladies' Night featuring female darts superstar Anastasia Dobromyslova; *Wednesday, August 19 - Celebrate Cumbria family day.

Managing director John Baker said: "May Bank Holiday Monday always gets the Flat racing season at Carlisle Racecourse off with a bang.

"As well as our regular visitors, it's a splendid opportunity for people who maybe haven't been racing before to try out the sport for the first time."

The racecourse is offering added value admission packages that include refreshments and an official programme at a discount.