Hexham Racecourse History
Hexham 1908ss.JPG (27878 bytes)

The earliest evidence of racing in the vicinity of Hexham was at Tyne Green in 1720, although the first races did not take place on the Hexham race ground until 1793, with details of two meetings held that year shown below courtesy of the Newcastle Courant. In the mid to late 19th century Hexham had to take a back seat when Wark races gained in popularity from 1854. However, Wark (North Tyneside) closed for the final time on 16th May 1878, providing Hexham with the opportunity to prepare for a relaunch. In 1890 racing resumed on 23rd April, masterminded by Charles William Chipchase Henderson, with full race details shown below, although it was a further ten years before permanent buildings began being built. Painted in distinctive blue and yellow, the racing colours of Charles Henderson, the same colours were used for member’s badges in the early years they were issued. In 1907 the Heart of All England Cup and Steeplechase were introduced into the programme for the first time, the race was recognised as the point to point championship in the area. It is thought that James VI of Scotland gave the ‘Heart of All England’ title in spite of Hadrian’s Wall being so close. A limited company was formed in 1926 under the directorship of Captain Stephen Henderson jnr, making the future of Hexham racecourse secure. Racing ceased during the war years, the site being used to store ammunition, but returned in 1946. A new weighing room was completed in 1990; a new watering system in 1997, and the Horse Race Levy Board helped to finance the Ramshaw Stand in 1998. Currently the course offers 15 fixtures annually.
For the opening meeting a Steward was Captain Atkinson; the Judge was H Patrickson; the Starter Nicholas Cornish, and the Honorary Secretary was Charles William Chipchase Henderson.
Wednesday 23rd April 1890
FIRST RACE: Yarridge Steeplechase Plate over 2 miles

1. Saunby, aged horse owned by Mr C Perkins
2. Bangor, 4 year old owned by Mr H Hall
3. Midget, 6 year old owned by Mr John Slater
4. Spring, 6 year old owned by Mr Laycock

Hexham continues to thrive today, whereas nearby Rothbury closed its gates for the final time in 1965.

The Northumbrian town of Rothbury first staged a three day race meeting on Rothbury Haugh in April 1759 sponsored primarily by Lord Northumberland. Just a year later, on Monday 14th April 1760, a meeting was organised but only three horses were present. Races were held intermittently for the next century, seldom more than one day a year and often in conjunction with a town festival or fair. The first occasion racing received wider recognition was in 1869 when results were included in the Racing Calendar. The principal race, the Rothbury Hunt Cup over 2 ½ miles, went to Mr Dale’s Rebecca at that early meeting. The course, close to the River, was always prone to flooding, which was more of a problem when they only raced once a year and relied on the profit from that meeting to subsidise the racecourse. Furthermore, the course lacked basic facilities, including sufficient stabling for the horses. Racing ceased between 1915 and 1919, in line with the majority of courses, and again between 1939 and 1945, returning after the war had ended on Saturday 27th April 1946. The situation became dire in the early 1960s when racing was abandoned in consecutive years between 1962 and 1963 due to flooding, so it was no surprise when the course was listed amongst those which the Levy Board stated they would no longer support financially after 1966. In the end the final meeting was staged on Saturday 10th April 1965.
Tuesday 28th April 1870
Rothbury Hunt Cup over 2 ½ miles
1. Cornustibij, bay mare owned by Mr T Forster
2. Primrose, brown mare owned by Mr G Turnbull
3. Independent, bay horse owned by Mr C Robson

I am grateful to Ordnance Survey (© Crown Copyright) for permission to use the map shown below.

The newspaper extracts shown below are from the Newcastle Courant of Thursday 22nd March 1739 and May 1739.

I am grateful to Craig Binns for many of the badges shown on this page.
Hexham 1970p.JPG (32804 bytes)
1938 Ladies 1938 Gents 1939 Ladies 1939 Gents 1970 Gents

Wednesday 23rd April 1890
SECOND RACE: Tynedale-Haydon Hunt Plate over 4 miles

1. Woodlawn, aged horse owned by Mr C E Hunter
2. Sandboy, aged horse owned by Mr Laycock
3. Black Peter, aged horse owned by Mr F Straker

Hexham 1974p.JPG (28207 bytes)
1971 Gents 1972 Gents 1973 Gents 1974 Gents 1976 Gents

Wednesday 23rd April 1890
THIRD RACE: Open Hunters’ Steeplechase Plate over 3 ½ miles

1. Sir Herbert, aged horse owned by Mr C J Cunningham
2. Parseproud, 5 year old owned by Mr J Rogerson
3. Daloraine, 6 year old owned by Mr Laycock

1977 Gents 1978 Gents 1979 Gents 1980 Gents 1981 Gents

Wednesday 23rd April 1890
FOURTH RACE: Border Counties Hunt Plate over 3 ½ miles

1. Minster, 6 year old owned by Captain M Cradock
2. Cambria, aged horse owned by Lord Henry Vane Tempest
3. Tynemouth, 6 year old owned by Mr Fogg

Hexham 1984c.JPG (22326 bytes) Hexham 1986y.JPG (33982 bytes) Hexham 1987y.JPG (34825 bytes)
1983 Gents 1984 Gents 1985 Gents 1986 Gents 1987 Gents

Wednesday 23rd April 1890
FIFTH RACE: Selling Hunters’ Steeplechase Plate over 2 miles

1. Fowberry, aged horse owned by Mr C E Browne
2. Matador, aged horse owned by Mr R Jefferson
3. Gipsy Lass, 4 year old owned by Mr A Bryden

Hexham 1988y.JPG (37026 bytes) Hexham 1989.JPG (17555 bytes)
1988 Gents 1989 Gents 1990 Gents 1991 Gents 1992 Gents

Wednesday 23rd April 1890
SIXTH RACE: Hexham Steeplechase Plate over 2 ½ miles

1. Gamecock, 4 year old owned by Mr Davidson
2. Come Again, 6 year old owned by Mr John Peel
3. Clatter, 5 year old owned by Mr E Joicey

1993 Gents 1994 Gents 1995 Gents 1996 Gents 1997 Gents
1998 Gents 1999 Gents 2000 Gents 2001 Ladies 2002 Gents
Hexham 2003w.JPG (33431 bytes)
2003 Ladies 2003 Gents 2004 Ladies 2004 Gents 2005 Ladies
2006 Gents 2007 Gents 2008 Gents 2009 Gents 2010 Gents
2011 Gents 2012 Gents 2013 Gents 2014 Gents 2015 Gents

ISBN 978-0-9957632-0-3

652 pages

774 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-1-0

352 pages

400 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-2-7

180 pages

140 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-3-4

264 pages

235 former courses

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