FAMILIES started their Easter celebrations early this week by taking in the action at Hexham Racecourse.

Ahead of the long bank holiday weekend, hundreds headed to Yarridge Heights for the racecourse’s popular Easter fixture on Monday afternoon.

The crowds may have added to the extra-long tailbacks experienced on the A69, but the wait was all worthwhile as racegoers of all ages enjoyed the action on a warm afternoon. The seven race card, sponsored by radio station Smooth North East, was the second fixture of the year after more than 1,100 people attended the opening Cheltenham Festival Raceday last month.

The strong crowds bode well for the remainder of the season at Hexham with 12 fixtures still to come in 2019, with the historic Heart of All England meeting next up on the evening of Saturday, May 4.

The Easter fixture was a good day for favourite backers with five races won by the pre-race favourites.

Glinger Flame, ridden by Sean Quinlan and Nicky Richards, kick-started the trend with victory in the opening race as he justified his 1/2 price, but Miss Amelia, at 5/2 favourite, was runner-up to 11/4 ranked Johnny Yuma in the following race.

But the favourites were first past the post in the following four races as Miss Delighted (5/4F), Solo Saxophone (4/9F), Prince Dundee (15/8F) and Sausalito Sunrise (11/10F) rode to glory.

Ending an eventful day of racing, 5/1 Shanroe claimed victory ahead of 3/1 favourite Black Ebony.