THIS weekend should have seen the start of the traditional horse racing season at Cartmel - with all the usual crowds, picnics, trade stands and fairground rides.

Like dozens of other events and venues, the scenic course has had to cancel May and June events due to coronavirus - with hopes that racing in some form may be able to return in July and August.

Our pictures today are from The Mail's archive and look back to the meetings held in 1998 and 2000 as a reminder of what is a highlight for many Furness racing fans and those seeking a fun day in the country.

The Cartmel Races website notes: "Cartmel Racecourse is like a small family and we are supporting each other where we can through this time – we are still working safely with a very small team to make sure the track is ready for when racing can recommence."

The Mail, on Monday, May 25 in 1998, noted: "All roads led to South Cumbria for race fans over the bank holiday weekend as riders, horses and punters gathered for this year's Cartmel steeplechases.

"Hardened gamblers with their binoculars and form guides mixed with holidaying families, mainly there for the spectacle.

"And horse racing crossed the class divide, with flash jaguars parked side-by-side with ageing Fiestas as everyone drank-in the race day atmosphere.

"After two races Lord Cavendish, of Holker Hall, who owns the racecourse, was yet to risk a pound."

He said: "I am not doing anything. I am just trying to get under the skin of this thing."

Some Furness fans would have done well to follow his strategy.

Paul Hagan, 22, from Raleigh Street, Barrow, said: "I am £10 down in the first race.

"I think I backed a donkey. I was very confident but it tailed-off at the fifth."

The article noted: "The day was a roaring success, albeit an expensive one for some people.

"And even the weather joined in, eventually, as the sun beamed down for the sixth and final race.

"That was won fairly easily by Niknaks Nephew.

"The healthy 9,100 attendance was excellent for a Saturday."

The next planned race meeting at Cartmel is on Saturday and Monday, July 18 and 20.

The August Holiday Meeting is planned for Saturday, August 29 and Bank Holiday Monday, August 31.