The 2019 season at Cartmel Racecourse gets underway this weekend and the dominance of Brian Hughes in the annual Jockeys Challenge is under considerable threat.

The traditional three-day Whit meeting at the South Lakes course begins on Saturday and continues on Bank Holiday and ends next Wednesday with a first-ever Ladies Evening, which will be sponsored by The Mail.

Hughes has claimed the title in four of the past five years, but he has just returned from the fractured jaw that forced him to miss last month’s Scottish National.

He has been the outstanding rider around Cartmel since winning his first challenge in 2014, but the emergence of Cumbria-based Sean Quinlan is just one of the challenges he will have to face this year.

Factor in the continued rise of Henry Brooke and the likelihood that champion jockey Richard Johnson and Stan Bowen are likely to be frequent visitors this season and Hughes’ title is at risk.

The Cartmel Trainers Challenge goes into its ninth season and, once again, it is likely to become a battle between defending champion Donald McCain, who has won the crown five times and Cartmel trainer James Moffatt, whose run of three successive Challenge wins came to an end last year.

Moffatt, who loves to target his local course, was handicapped by his horses being under a cloud for much of last summer, but wins for Golden Town at Sedgefield and Lough Kent at Kelso last week suggest all is well at his stables this time round.

It promises to be a cracking season at Cartmel with Michelin-starred chef Simon Rogan, whose Cartmel restaurant L’Enclume has been voted Britain’s best, introducing ‘Rogan At The Races,’ an exclusive restaurant next to the winning line.

Saturday’s opener begins with the Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding Novices Hurdle at 2:05pm and features the £20,000 Oakmere Homes Handicap Hurdle.

Monday’s meeting opens at 2:10pm with a novice hurdle run in memory of trainer Kenneth Slack, a great supporter of Cartmel, who died earlier this year.

At Wednesday’s Ladies Evening, which gets under way at 5:35pm, admittance will cost just £5 for the Course enclosure and £10 for the Paddock enclosure, with prizes for the Best Dressed Lady and Best Dressed Gent to be handed out.