A trip to Hexham Races should be on every race fans ‘bucket list’. The beautiful Northumberland course holds its latest fixture today, with a seven race card. The feature event is the Northumberland County Handicap Chase over a punishing four miles. The very best northern trainers will be in attendance including Lucinda Russell, Nicky Richards, Sue Smith and John Quinn.
The course is situated on Yarridge Heights, some 600 feet above the pretty market town of Hexham. Views from the stands of the surrounding countryside are simply stunning. Records exist showing racing taking place on the land in the late 1700’s. After a brief spell when racing ceased, a local enthusiast named Charles William Chipchase Henderson reopened the course. During a meeting of influential locals, it was decided that he would take full responsibility for the management and finance of such events.
Between 1890 and 1900 buildings were erected and the land was officially purchased from the Bywell Estate. The most famous features at Hexham; the natural Birch wings alongside the fences; were planted in the early 1900’s, and the course started to take shape.
On Mr Henderson’s death in 1914, the racecourse passed to his son who in 1926 turned it into a private limited company, though the Henderson family retained a controlling share in the business. Over the years further buildings have been added with the Ramshaw stand being built in 1998.
Hexham Racecourse will be celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2015. As part of the celebrations the course recently launched the Hexham Racing Club. Members have the opportunity to experience the thrill of racehorse ownership, as well as VIP days at the course and stable visits. The club have purchased a horse with leading trainer Lucinda Russell. It is intended that he will run at Hexham and other local tracks. For full details on membership, interested parties can visit the racecourse website.
Though racing is clearly the prime reason for visiting Hexham, it would be a mistake to travel to this part of the country without venturing further afield. The town lies just off the A69 virtually midway between Newcastle and Carlisle. It’s an area of stunning natural beauty, but also of great historical interest with Hadrian’s Wall running close by, stretching along the breadth of the country.
With the wonderful Northumberland Coastline to the east and the glorious Lake District to the west, Hexham Races is truly a sporting occasion not to be missed.