Hexham Racecourse

The Ridings, Hexham, Northumberland, NE46 4PF - Map & Directions
01434 606881
Hexham Racecourse Sign
Hexham Racecourse Entrance (Brian Norman / geograph.org.uk)

The National Hunt course at Hexham remains Northumberland’s only racecourse, situated above the adorable market town of Yarridge Heights. Racing first started in the Hexham area around the year 1720, but it wasn’t moved to the current site until 1793. For a number of reasons, in 1880 racing at Hexham temporarily stopped, however from about 1890 to 1907 Charles William Chipchase Henderson managed to re-establish the course, eventually buying the land and paying for redevelopments to the course in order to uphold and continue the racing traditions of the area.

There has always been seating facilities at Hexham but the current Ramshaw grandstand was only built recently, having been opened in 1998. There is free parking for all visitors to Hexham and it is not difficult to find, with those travelling by car advised to follow the signs once they have turned into Hexham at the main roundabout of the A69 from Newcastle to Carlisle. Hexham railway station is served frequently by trains from Newcastle and is located just two and a half miles from the racecourse. On race days there is a free courtesy bus service in operation between the course and the bus station in the town centre whilst the more energetic can opt to walk.

Ticket Prices

There are two price levels at Hexham allowing entry into two separate enclosures. Access to the Club Enclosure is available for just £18, whilst entry to the Paddock is only £10. Senior rates introduce a small discount with Paddock entry costing £8, however this doesn’t apply to the Club Enclosure. Customers under the age of 16 are allowed free entry when accompanied by a full paying adult, whilst full time students are able to enter under the senior rate upon production of a valid student card.

The Course

With no flat racing taking place throughout the racing season at Hexham, there are just two courses – the steeplechase course and the hurdles course. They are both left-handed and measure around 1m4f in circumference. Both courses are extremely undulating, with a sharp decline on the home straight followed by a heavy ascent for the rest of the track. This is certainly a fairly challenging place for jockeys to ride and they often lack the time to soak in the beautiful surroundings that spectators love so much.

The steeplechase course features 10 fences, including a water jump in front of the grandstand, however, this is avoided on the final lap. The hurdles course runs around the outside of the steeplechase and features six flights, with one hurdle on the home straight. Both sets of obstacles are on the easy side but there are a few fallers at Hexham, most likely because of the lower standard of jockeyship and horses and the going which can often get quite testing.

A Front-Runners’ Paradise

Although races at Hexham are fairly steadily run, you’ll struggle to find a course that favours front runners more during shorter distance chases. Data taken from races 2m 1½f or shorter in length reveal a massive bias benefitting those that ride at the front, or close to it, during the early stages. A look at 68 front runners at Hexham showed that they won 24 times in races with at least six runners, posting a strike rate of 35.3%.

The Impact Value (IV) – a slightly more sophisticated way of looking at things – for early leaders at Hexham was an exceptionally high 2.96. Held-up horses on the other hand posted an IV of just 0.29 after winning just 6 of 56 races from a total of 174 runners.

There’s a decent case to be made that in shorter National Hunt races, Hexham has the strongest front runner bias in the country so this is definitely something to look at when placing your bets. Early leaders are around three times more likely to prevail, making it a place to avoid backing horses or jockeys that prefer to hang back.

The above findings fully contradict the previously held idea that Hexham is place that favours horses that come from behind. It’s an easy assumption to make given the fact horses are often sent-off a long way from home with a testing finish awaiting, but the numbers truly speak for themselves.

Major Meetings at Hexham

No races take place in February
No races take place in February due to Hexham's remote location (Oliver Dixon / geograph.org.uk)

Located 800ft about sea level, there are only 14 days of racing a year at Hexham, with the northern remoteness of the site meaning there are no races allowed to take place there during February. The most prestigious annual race is the Heart of All England Hunter Chase, which is run every May over a distance of 3m1f. First place prize for the race in 2013 was £1,872, which was increased to £2,496 for 2014, demonstrating that Hexham is not a course with any genuinely top class races.

Dining and Hospitality

Sheep near the Racecourse
Sheep near the Racecourse (Oliver Dixon / geograph.org.uk)

Private boxes are available at Hexham for between 18 and 30 guests, with three menu packages on offer ranging in price between £56 and £78 + VAT per person. The Pavilion restaurant menu is priced at £65 per person, whilst the racecourse holds its own marriage licence for those that think they’ve picked a winner for life and wish to experience their big day there!


Swap Start/End