Hexham Racecourse is situated 800 feet above sea level at High Yarridge, approximately two miles south of the town of Hexham in Northumberland in northeast England. The racecourse itself is set in a natural amphitheatre below the stands and affords excellent all around viewing. The first written records of racing at High Yarridge date from 1793 but, apart from a break for World War II, racing has taken place on the site, uninterrupted, since it was restarted under National Hunt Rules in 1890. The first permanent buildings were erected on the site shortly afterwards and the racecourse facilities have undergone constant improvement right up to the present day. An irrigation system, fed by a lake in the centre of the course, was introduced in 1997 and the Ramshaw Stand was built in 1998. Nowadays, Hexham Racecourse stages 14 National Hunt fixtures a year between March and November.
For racegoers, Hexham Racecourse offers a choice of two enclosures, known as the Club Enclosure and the Paddock Enclosure. General admission prices are £18 per person for the Club Enclosure and £10 per person for the Paddock Enclosure, although there are concessions for senior citizens in the latter and admission is free for accompanied children in both enclosures.
For corporate events, including conferences, seminars and private parties, Hexham Racecourse offers a comprehensive range of indoor and outdoor spaces. The Enderby & Patterson private boxes on the top floor of the Ramshaw Stand, for example, are capable of accommodating up to 25 people each, or can be combined with adjoining rooms to create larger spaces. The Henderson Room, overlooking the parade ring, is capable of accommodating 120 people for a sit down meal, while marquees capable of accommodating between 100 and 400 people can be sited on the racecourse lawn.
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What's unique about the course at Hexham?
Hexham consists of a left-handed, undulating circuit, approximately a mile and a half around, with 10 easy fences per circuit. The back straight runs steeply downhill, but the home straight runs equally steeply uphill, before levelling out in front of the stands, so Hexham is a very testing track.
The final fence, the run-in, which is about a furlong in length and the winning post lie on a spur.
Notable Races and Events
The best known and most popular race at Hexham is the Heart of All England Maiden Hunters' Chase, run over 3 miles 1 furlong in late April or early May. The race is often considered a “Cup Final” for rising steeplechase stars from the north of England, particularly those from the point-to-point field. Interestingly, Selkirk trainer Stuart Coltherd, who hit the headlines when saddling Tartan Snow to win the John Smith's Fox Hunters' Chase at the 2013 Aintree Festival at odds of 100/1, trained his first winner under Rules in the race in 1999.
Former high-profile National Hunt jockey Tommy Stack, now a successful trainer, is probably best remembered for riding Red Rum to his historic win in the Grand National in 1977. However, Stack was nearly killed when one of his mounts at Hexham reared over backwards, badly crushing him. Stack broke his pelvis in twelve places and was in traction for three months.
Jockey Campbell Gillies, who died in a swimming pool accident while on holiday in Corfu on the day before his 22nd birthday in June 2012, rode the first and last of his 131 career winners at Hexham. In October 2012, his mother, Lesley Gillies unveiled a plaque to officially open the Campbell Gillies Lodge, which provides accommodation for stable staff at Hexham Racecourse.
On April 7, 2013, 23-year-old jockey Ryan Mania, who had won the Grand National on 66/1 chance Auroras Encore the previous day, suffered neck and back injuries when his mount, Stagecoach Jasper, fell in the St. John Lee Handicap Hurdle at Hexham. Mania was airlifted to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, where he spent two nights. Thankfully, no serious damage was done and he returned to the saddle in time to partner Auroras Encore again in the Scottish National at Ayr less than two weeks later.
Top Owners, Jockeys and Trainers
Brian Hughes has been the most successful jockey at Hexham during the last five seasons with 25 winners for 152 rides, although he's not too far ahead of Peter Buchanan with 22 winners from 146 rides and Denis O'Regan with 20 winners from 97 rides.
Things are equally tight at the top of the trainers' table for the same period; Lucinda Russell leads the way with 30 winners from 173 runners, although Sue Smith with 24 winners from 139 runners isn't far behind. The owners' table is a more clear-cut affair with Andrea and Graham Wylie a long way ahead of their nearest pursuers with 20 winners from 63 runners.
Follow Hexham Racecourse on Social Networks
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