World's oldest sporting trophy, the 422-year-old Carlisle Bells, up for grabs on Wednesday

THE oldest sporting trophy in the world is up for grabs at Carlisle on Wednesday.

The 422-year-old Carlisle Bells will be contested for over one mile at the Cumbria track.

First run for in 1599, the two bells are so precious they can only be handled by a specialist wearing white gloves and are kept in a secure case.

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Together they are remarkable survivors from the very first days of organised horse racing in Britain.

Queen Elizabeth I was monarch when the bells were first presented and William Shakespeare was still alive.

They were thought to have been lost forever in the 1800s but were rediscovered in a box in the town clerk's office.

Since that day they have been presented to the winner of Carlisle's premier race.

Roger Fell will hope to get his hands on – or at least near them – again tomorrow.

He reckons his big fancy Global Spirit can follow up Rousayan's victory in 2019 – the last time the race was run.

Fell said: "It should be quite interesting to see how he goes and it will be even better for him if there’s any rain.

"He fits the bill for this kind of race and it’s something that we’d like to win again, so fingers crossed we go well."

Tim Easterby is desperate to see Garden Oasis come through though, to back up Silvery Moon's 2013 triumph.

The six year old showed plenty of determination to return to winning ways at Ayr last time out and his Easterby is confident he can make an impression from stall eight – which has produced two of the last three winners.

He said: "He’s drawn in stall eight, which is a good draw and he’s in good form at the moment.

"He ran a really good race here two starts ago so he should hopefully have a good chance."

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