CARLISLE Racecourse hosts its most valuable day's horse racing on Wednesday, June 24 with more than £100,000 in prizemoney on offer for the first time ever.

It's Carlisle Bell & Cumberland Plate day, the most historic occasion of the racing calendar in Cumbria.

The Carlisle Bell - sponsored by the Lloyd Motor Group - is a race that dates back to the 16th Century when Queen Elizabeth I was on the English throne, making it one of the oldest horse races in Britain.

The Cumberland Plate - sponsored by Grolsch - is also a race with a long history, dating from the 1840s.

Each race has a prize fund of £30,000. The Carlisle Bell is run over a distance of just a few yards short of one mile, while the Cumberland Plate is an extended one mile and three furlongs.

The silver Tudor Carlisle racing bells are brought to the racecourse from Tullie House Museum for the day, with replicas presented to the owner of the winning horse.

Each bell was made in the late 1500s, the younger of the two inscribed '1599 H.B.M.C.', which is believed to stand for 'Henry Baines, Mayor of Carlisle'.

The racecourse's managing director John Baker said: "Carlisle Bell & Cumberland Plate day is our most prestigious horse racing occasion of the year.

"The Carlisle bells are remarkable survivors from the earliest days of organised horse racing and are recognised as the oldest known prizes in the sport in Britain."

Still to come this summer after Carlisle Bell & Cumberland Plate day are: * 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.

On June 24, gates open at noon for a first-race time of 2pm. The finale is at 5.15pm.