Hexham

hexhamHexham racecourse is located in the market town by the same name in Northumberland County, North East England. It is the only surviving recourse in the area, and has events screened on At The Races.

History

Racing at Hexham has been happening since the 1720s. It has however been threatened by closure many times, either from financial difficulties or competition from more attractive courses. The most famous race hosted here is the Heart of All England steeplechase, which has been running since 1907.

Charles William Chipchase Henderson has a special place in the history of the course. He acquired the property at a time when racing had virtually died in 1880, putting up racing and viewing facilities, some of which exist to this day.

Racing at Hexham was stopped during the Second World War, during which it was used as an ammunition site. Racing returned in 1946, and has been continuing since. A lot of upgrades were introduced in the 1990s, part of which included the construction of a lake within the premises.

The course

The racing circuit extends over a length of one and a half miles. It is generally flat, with an uphill climb close to the finish, which gives way to a perfectly flat distance in the run in which extends about 150 yards. The track is oval in shape, with another straight along the center which gives it three long stretches. It is used for national hunt races. Racing is left handed, with steep deeps that require racehorses to put every bit of stamina to use.

Acces by road is made easy by the clear signposting. The closest railway station is Hexham, 1.7 miles from the course. Air access is through the Newcastle airport 17 miles away or helicopter landing on the course which requires prior arrangements.

Races

The Heart of All England Hunter chase is Hexham’s premiere race. The Northumberland Day also attracts a good number of viewers. Racing takes place between February and December.

Top 5 Most Challenging Racecourses in the Jumps

The 2017/18 National Hunt season is in its formative stages and racing fans can look forward to months of thrilling action ahead of them. The likes of the Grand National, the Cheltenham Festival and the King George VI Chase are among the highlights of the entire sporting calendar, let alone horseracing. But it is a long and gruelling season for runners, jockeys and trainers and it takes in some extremely challenging courses along the way. Here we rank the five most challenging jumps courses, in descending order:

5. Chepstow

It is difficult to whittle it down to just five courses out of the 42 on the National Hunt circuit, and the battle for fifth place was extremely tight. Newcastle, Doncaster, Bangor, Newbury and Wetherby are all difficult courses and had a strong chance of making this list, but Chepstow just about edges them. It is an extremely undulating course and very testing for runners. The long back and stiff home straight make it a real test of a horse’s stamina and going can be highly testing.

4. Ascot

Ascot is more famed for flat racing, particularly the pomp and glamour of the Royal Ascot festival, but its jumps racing is more for the purists. It is a difficult course due to the 73ft uphill climb, and it becomes a lot harder when fences are added. Ascot has large, sweeping turns and is a galloping course. If you get stuck at the back of a big field is it very difficult to break through on the sharp home straight on this triangular track.

3. Kempton

The home of the King George VI Chase is faces a grave threat at the moment after its owner, Jockey Club Racecourses, announced plans in January 2017 to close the track and sell it to housing developers. However, that sparked a ferocious outcry from the racing community, a petition to stop the bulldozers was launched and it seems as though Kempton has been given a stay of execution as no further news about the closure has emerged. Racing is still taking place on this historic and much-loved track, which stands as one of the most challenging National Hunt courses around. It is a quick course and horses need serious pace to claim victory on it, but it is also provides a stern jumping test, with the tight right hand turn providing a particularly difficult feature.

2. Cheltenham

Cheltenham is probably the most famous jumps racecourse in the world and its Festival each March is undoubtedly the highlight of the global racing calendar. It brings sporting pedigree, drama, excitement and glamour to the west of England and attracts the best and bravest horses in the world. There are two courses – the Old Course and the New Course – and both are very difficult. The New Course is slightly longer, with a difficult downhill fence, while the Old Course has a shorter run-in, but both are a real stamina test. Securing victory at Cheltenham is a magnificent achievement due to its undulations, difficult fences and steep finish.

1. Aintree

Aintree on Merseyside hosts the world’s most famous National Hunt race each April: the Grand National. It also has two courses – the Mildmay course and the Grand National course – and both are intriguing. Mildmay is used more frequently and it is a difficult course with sharp turns, but the Grand National course really steps it up several notches as it is far more resplendent and a lot more challenging. It is certainly the most difficult track in National Hunt racing. Check all today’s racing markets and you will find plenty of exciting races taking place on demanding courses, but none will come close to the Grand National. The fences are far bigger than those at Cheltenham and feature momentous drops. The most famous of the lot is Becher’s Brook, which is 5ft high and incorporates a 7ft drop, making it the toughest hurdle in the Grand National. Canal Turn is another notable fence due to the sharp 90-degree turn it imposes upon runners as they land, while The Chair and Water Jump are also notorious. In total contestants are forced to endure 30 jumps over a distance of more than four miles, making it the longest race in the National Hunt season, and many fail to complete it. This is not a race for the faint of heart, but winning it is a tremendous achievement on this hellacious course.

Author bio

Martin Green is an experienced horse racing correspondent and tipster.

Hereford

Hereford Racecourse lies within the so named town, within the English county of Herefordshire. It is owned by the Herefordshire Council, and has its races televised on At The races.

History

The course was opened in in 1771. It was initially a flat-type track at the time, with the first jump race run in 1840. In 1883, it became a full time jump race course, and no further flat races were run at the course.

The track has been consistent in hosting events since its inception, except for the period of World War II when it took a break until 1946.

There have been several stand out events in the course’s history, most notable in 1975 when the races attracted so many racers that the races had to be split. 14 races were run on that day. In 2007, the first harness race was held at the course.

The course

The running circuit extends for around a mile and a half, right handed. It is generally flat, with a shape that can be described as a rough square. It is largely flat, with challenging sharp turns.

The course switched from thoroughbred to Arabian racing in 2012, after the Arena Racing Company failed to secure a land lease renewal from the Herefordshire Council.

Access to the course is by road, rail or air. The course is located five minutes’ from the Hereford train station, from where a taxi cab service is available.

Races

There are fifteen race days on Hereford’s yearly calendar. 11 National Hunt races between January and March and again between October and Dcember (For 2017) Other race types include point to point runs, mainly for young horses that are yet to get into the big races. The North Herefordshire Hunt Point to Point is staged in May.

Martin Pipe as trainer and Tony Mc Coy as jockey would definitely have a soft spot for Hereford, having enjoyed immense success here.