It is located in the south of the Lake District. The oldest recorded racing at Cartmel was in 1856, although races were held at the site before that date. It was supported by local landowners, a very small course featuring primarily amateur jockeys. However, in the second half of the 20th century, the racecourse was expanded and professionalized. In 1925, it adhered to the National Hunt Races, which was held at Cartmel Park adjoining the village, set against the backdrop of the beautiful English Lake District. Then in the 1960s, it started to attract professional jockeys, and the efforts of Colonel Davy Pain and his course Clerk, Tom Riley, were rewarded with a formal racing schedule. By 1974, the track hit the headlines when it became the venue for the attempted Gay Future fraud.
Although the track is considered small in size, ironically, it is the third highest attended jumps course in the UK annually, behind only Aintree and Cheltenham race tracks. It is also noted as having a four-furlong run-in on the Steeplechase course, the longest in Britain. The run-in on the Hurdle track is slightly less than 2 furlongs. All winning connections receive a Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding to take home.
It is a left-handed, tight, oval, with six fences and an open ditch and water jump. The run-in after the final fence is half a mile (longest in the UK). The final run-in veers off and cuts the oval in half.
The two types of general admission tickets at Cartmel are the Paddock Enclosure and Course Enclosure. The Paddock Enclosure includes the Grandstand and Paddock, Parade Ring/Winners Enclosure, Marquee Village, and the Louis Roederer Restaurant. Those who availed of this ticket can move freely over to the Course Enclosure at the track crossing point. However, going is not permitted with glass or while horses are on track. On the other hand, the Course Enclosure is situated on the opposite side of the finishing straight from the Paddock are the fairground, trade stands, and the bandstand. Transfers are also possible to the Paddock Enclosure at the track crossing point if you receive a Paddock Ticket or Upgrade ticket. These upgrade tickets can be purchased at the crossing. Both enclosures offer a range of food and drink outlets, betting, and toilet facilities, including accessible toilets and baby changing areas.