Hexham is a National Hunt track located in Northumberland, 800 feet above sea level at High Yarridge. It is the most northerly track in England and one of the most picturesque in the whole of the UK. It can be reached via the M6 at Carlisle or the A1M at Newcastle upon Tyne, joining the A69 and taking the Hexham turning. The course is two miles south of Hexham town centre. Hexham Railway Station is two miles from the racecourse on the Newcastle upon Tyne to Carlisle line. A frequent shuttle bus operates on race days.
Hexham is a left handed, undulating track of about a mile and a half. There is a short climb on the approach to the home straight and a 250-yard run in. There are ten jumps per circuit, although the fences are considered relatively benign. One of the best horse racing tips for Hexham today is to take note of the going. The ground at Hexham can become extremely soft and this makes it a real test of stamina.
Hexham Horse Racing History
A title deed from 1670 suggests that racing took place on a track known as the green way from Dipton Mill Inn to Shield Green, below the current racecourse. Racing certainly took place in the Tyne Green area of Hexham as far back as 1720. In 1793 they raced for the first time at the current site of Yarridge Heights. Official race records date the opening meeting as 23rd April 1890. Charles Henderson and Sir Loftus Bates were the key driving forces behind the inaugural meeting which attracted 31 runners.
Henderson invested further in the course in 1907, including the unique copper beech wings to the fences. The Heart of All England Steeplechase was run for the first time that year. The race continues to this day over three miles and one furlong. The race is only a maiden hunters’ chase but it is regarded as the Final of a series of races for rising talent from the point-to-point field.
The racecourse was used as an ammunition depot during the Second World War. In 1998 the new Ramshaw Grandstand was opened and in 2016 the racecourse was purchased by Hexham and Northern Marts.
Hexham Race Meetings
Hexham stages around 15 jumps meetings from March through to December. These include evening and twilight meetings in April and September. Hexham hosts the first three-year-old hurdle of the season at the start of June. In 2018 this fell on Derby Day with the race going to Ben Haslam’s Lord Caprio. The Heart of All England Chase takes place on Heart of All England Evening in early May and there is a popular Ladies Day in June.
Famous Races and Racehorses at Hexham
Jockey Chris Grant rode his first ever winner here aboard Trim Lawns. He later became stable jockey to the powerful Arthur Stephenson stable. Grant finished second in the Grand National in 1986 on Young Driver and then again on Durham Edition in 1988 and 1990. He finally tasted National success in Scotland when he won the 1991 Scottish National at Ayr on Killone Abbey.
Campbell Gillies also rode his first winner at Hexham aboard Gunson Hight in 2007. He rode Brindisi Breeze to win the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at the 2012 Cheltenham Festival. Gillies, widely regarded as one of the most exciting young jockeys, tragically drowned while holidaying in Corfu in June that year. He is remembered by the Campbell Gillies Lodge which provides accommodation for stable staff at the track.
Hexham attracted extra attention in 2012 when a coloured racehorse named Angrove Rumbaba made his debut in a National Hunt flat race. Officially a skewbald, the son of Ricco VII was trained by Micky Hammond and ridden by Miss Becky Smith. Unfortunately he did not possess the talent to match his looks. His name did not feature among Hexham racing tips and he finished well beaten in fourth place. He did not fare any better at Sedgefield next time and returned to Hexham for his final career start, this time finishing last of three behind Absolutely Bygones.
In October 2016 jockey Henry Brooke suffered serious injuries in a fall from Old Storm at the track. Racing was delayed for nearly two hours so that Brooke could receive treatment before being airlifted to Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle. He made a successful return to Hexham in December when riding Munsaab to victory, his first winner since his heavy fall. On the same card, Lastbutnotleast carried the famous Red Rum colours to victory for Donald McCain.
The notorious ups and downs of horse racing were further illustrated when 2013 Grand National winning jockey Ryan Mania suffered bad injuries at Hexham. The fall came less than 24 hours after steering 66-1 outsider Aurora’s Encore to victory at Aintree. He was allowed home after two nights in hospital and received a homecoming party in his hometown of Galashiels. Mania retired in 2014, citing the struggle with his weight as the main reason behind his decision.
One of the hottest Hexham races tips in recent years came in August 2017 when the unraced gelding Buy Mistake won a National Hunt Flat race. Geoffrey Harker’s son of Soldier of Fortune opened at 11-1 but was backed down to 11-8 favourite before beating Klare Castle by a length.
In April 2018, three horses died within the space of thirty minutes at the racecourse. Skywards Reward, Flemerina and Nelly La Rue all suffered fatal injuries, sparking an investigation by The British Horseracing Authority. The review concluded that they were unrelated incidents and Hexham reaffirmed their commitment to animal welfare.
Hexham Betting Tips
Grand National winning Trainer Lucinda Russell has a good record at Hexham over the past three seasons. Only Maurice Barnes has trained more winners here during that period and both feature regularly among Hexham betting tips. George Bewley (chases) and Iain Jardine (hurdles) are other trainers to note at Hexham.
Jockeys Jamie Hamilton and Dale Irving have both returned a level stakes profit for their followers and a healthy 24% strike rate. Thomas Dowson is another jockey to note in our Hexham horse racing tips, particularly when riding over hurdles.